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Citizens protest downtown over burn chamber

Dylan Cabbedge displays a sign to keep the burn chamber along Broadway during the protest Thursday.

Following Monday night’s heated debate on whether the contained burn chamber at Camp Minden should stay or go, on Thursday, community members organized a peaceful protest over the burn chamber’s future.

Protestors, for and against, lined the side of Broadway in downtown Minden, across the street from the civic center, before Gov. John Bel Edwards was slated to speak during the 75th annual Minden-South Webster Chamber banquet.

The Rev. Richard Jefferson, of Doyline and pastor of Mt. Zion Hill Baptist Church, said members of his congregation were against the burn chamber staying once the destruction was complete.

“We’re not fighting against individuals jobs,” he said. “What we’re fighting against is one mistake out there, and we could have another explosion. The people that own the chamber signed a contract, they were supposed to get it done in a certain amount of time, dismantle the chamber and leave. That’s what we want them to do. We know that it has to be disposed of, but we just want it done. We just want it over with.”

Citizens for keeping the burn chamber came bearing signs “Keep the Chamber, Keep the Jobs,” and others. Jamoneshia Moore, 14, said she has two brothers and one sister her stepfather must support.

“We don’t want him to lose his job,” she said.

Dean Schellhase, project manager for ESI, was at the protest, and said keeping the chamber is “the right thing to do for the environment.”

“It’s the cleanest chamber in the world,” he said. “It’s the cleanest technology, and it was just proven this week during a stack emissions test. Everything was non-detect.”

During his keynote address, Edwards touched on the concerns regarding the future of the contained burn chamber, saying he would monitor the situation closely. He commended leaders and the community for stopping the open burn and having the chamber brought in to dispose of the demilitarized M6.

“We are going to be paying very close attention here, working with you all here in the Minden area and around Camp Minden to make sure that we get that right,” he said.