JACKSONVILLE — Going back to your roots can be a good thing. Unless your town’s historical roots serve better as an artistic backdrop than actual industry. Jacksonville residents are divided on a proposal to reopen Opp Mine as a source for gravel. Although it briefly brought fame to the town during the 1860s gold rush, it’s been closed for decades. Residents worry reopening it would do more damage than good. Chamber of Commerce president Bruce Garrett says that aside from possible drinking-water contamination, the mine’s biggest threat is that its traffic would mar the historical status of Jacksonville’s downtown, a popular tourist destination. Bob Robertson, co-owner of the mine’s parent company, Jackson Creek Sand Co., says the high-quality blue rock inside the mine could benefit the region. He says it would be ridiculous to ignore a resource that could be used in highway projects around Southern Oregon — not to mention the source of 40 jobs. Robertson also says the site is so polluted that it’s good for nothing else but what it was intended to be: a mine. A decision on the mine is expected later this month.
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