Photo by Jeremy Lange

Photo by Jeremy Lange

Congratulations goes to the Granville Non Violent Action Team, (GNAT). They received Independent Weekly’s 2008 Citizens Award.

This year, we add five more honorees to our list of more than 150: Karen Rindge of WakeUP Wake County, which has led the charge for better planning, schools and resource conservation; Amanda Arrington of the Coalition to Unchain Dogs, which has freed dogs from their tethers by building fences around their yards; Gary Kueber, whose blog, Endangered Durham, helps galvanize citizens to protect and preserve vital properties in the city; the Granville Nonviolent Action Team (GNAT), which so far has successfully fended off a federal disease research lab by exposing the public safety, environmental and financial risks associated with it; and Reggie Edwards, who helps empower women with their health, relationship and financial issues. Below is a list of previous winners. —Lisa Sorg

Independent Weekly’s Senior editor, Lisa Sorg interviewed individual members of GNAT for the story at GNAT’s last meeting. The article GNAT: Creating real homeland security is a great read and you can go to to learn more about GNAT’s fight to stop the Department of Homeland Security’s National Bio Agro Defense Facility (NBAF).

The NBAF final environmental impact statement is due to be released the first week of December according to recent media reports with the final site selection and Record of Decision (ROD) expected before the Presidential inauguration on January 20, 2009.

GNAT has vowed that if Butner is chosen for the lab that they will do “Whatever it Takes” to prevent the lab’s placement. In a recent Press release GNAT said;

“No matter what conclusions that Homeland Security draws in its Environmental Impact Statement” says Elaine McNeill, a farmer in nearby Stem, “we’ll be fighting this thing. We’re not a sacrifice area for misguided biohazard research when the need for the massive increase in such labs hasn’t even been assessed. NO community, especially on the US mainland, should have to face the threat of this lab and its deadly research in their midst. It didn’t take Bruce Ivins to convince me that we simply can’t anticipate all the ways that these diseases could escape and destroy our region’s economy, health and way of life.”

For those of us in the community who do not support this project, GNAT’s promise to stop the facility are words of comfort. They have the community’s best interest in mind which is more that I can say for the people courting the project. So thank you GNAT, thank you for all you do.