Censorship Debate in Andrews Over Chamber of Commerce 4th of July Event

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

ANDREWS- Fourth of July festivities will start at Lakeside Park in Andrews at 8 a.m. on Saturday. 
"It's a celebration. It's a family fun day," Julia Wallace, with the Andrews Chamber of Commerce called it a tradition. "This celebration has been going on for forty years and never in forty years have we allowed any group or organization or individual to distribute literature [at the event] that is critical of another group or business in Andrews."

Melodie Pryor and her sister Peggy Pryor with No Bonds for Billionaires rented a booth at the event and planned to pass out articles and information about Waste Control Specialists. The Company has come under fire by environmental groups who claim it is not a safe disposal site for hazardous or low-level radioactive waste. Company officials have argued the site has been extensively regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and is safe.

Wallace says the event will include food, crafts and games, but is not a political event and the Andrews Chamber's goal is to promote a positive business atmosphere in Andrews.

"I told them they can not put out any kind of information that specifically names any business or that names individuals or is inaccurate or slanderous of any business or individuals in town," Wallace said.
Pryor thinks Independence Day should celebrate freedom including the right to free speech.

"It seems kind of odd that on the fourth of July they're wanting to censor us even though it's our constitutional right," Pryor said.

David Rogers, the Pryor's attorney in a pending discovery case against the county, says it's debatable whether this type of curtailed speech is a first amendment violation but he argues there is no question it is censorship.

"We're trying to get fact sheets on PCB's that's in the Hudson sludge that were going to be getting here. I want to get some fact sheets on what Waste Control Specialists have at the site,"  Pryor says in Andrews the story remains one sided.

The Chamber will allow the group to have a booth at the Park on Saturday, but they're asking the Pryors not to display anything they deem slanderous or inaccurate.    

Pryor tells NewsWest 9, she will distribute material from a nearby street corner if she has to.

Waste Control Specialists is a member of the Chamber of Commerce.