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Meeker students takes stand against methanol plant

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With the continuing debate on the fate of the proposed methanol plant to be built at the Port of Tacoma, it seems everyone has their opinion to contribute. But there’s one voice that stands out from the crowd. Maxx Stewart is an 8th-grader at Meeker Middle School in Northeast Tacoma, who recently decided to focus an open ended writing assignment on the proposed plant. As Nancy Webster, his Language Arts teacher, explained, “Maxx went above and beyond.” Read Maxx’s full essay on pg. A4.

Maxx decided to write his persuasive essay on the methanol plant because, as he put it, “This, the methanol plant, methanol refinery, is new and it’s current and it’s local too.” And persuade he did. The essay, which received full marks from the state-standards-based rubric, details exactly why he opposes the plant, and why others should too.

While his research covered several points, from the politics that led to the proposal to the potential impact of the plant’s projected water usage in our drought prone climate, he knew his position on the matter as soon as he heard about it.

“Right from the beginning I knew I was opposing it,” said Maxx. “I mean, the world’s biggest methanol plant, here, in Tacoma?”

For the purposes of research, Maxx attended several of the town meetings on the topic, taking copious notes and recording arguments from both sides. Beyond getting him some of the information he used in his paper, it got him thinking about the role of everyday people in local government. He plans on using his position as ASB president at Meeker to get more involved in community issues.

In regard to the proposed plant, he said, “I think it’s something that people should vote on instead of just passing because it means more money. There are health and safety issues too.” As his essay explains, those concerns are numerous. Methanol itself is toxic, and the Port of Tacoma is located on a fault line. The explosion generated by an earthquake could be catastrophic. Maxx also suggests that since many of the jobs created by the plant are temporary, their benefit is not worth the risks associated with the plant. He warns against returning the city to its “polluted past,” a poignant note for those who remember the “Aroma of Tacoma.”

“I think the most important thing that people need to know is that this is not okay. The most important thing is stopping it now, and not letting it get any further. Like I said in my essay, it could be detrimental to all the citizens,” he said.

To do so, he suggests going to town meetings, writing to town officials and raising awareness, all of which he’s already done himself - not bad for a 14-year-old. Maxx has been involved in school papers and other writing pursuits since early elementary school, and that experience, in conjunction with his current photography class, has led to him wanting to become a photojournalist. And while a picture might be worth a thousand words, Maxx’s essay is certainly worth perusing. You might even learn a thing or two.

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