APnc 06/19 1438 Rainbow Family Graham Residents, Rainbow Family Members Meet ROBBINSVILLE,

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APnc 06/19 1438 Rainbow Family Graham Residents, Rainbow Family Members Meet ROBBINSVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- The Rainbow Family, during a meeting aimed at easing the concerns of Graham County residents, says most people attending the Family's gathering in the Nantahala Forest next month will be staying close to their campsites. And Family spokesmen said during the Thursday meeting that the Rainbows would send lawyers to a court hearing next week so they could fight a state effort to block its annual gathering. Family members also told Graham residents that that water supplies and sanitation are among their primary concerns. Family members, who often go by nicknames, said they hope something can be worked out to get the Department of Human Resources to drop its lawsuit against the gathering. The department is seeking a preliminary injunction against the gathering because the Rainbow Family has not applied for a mass gathering permit. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in Jackson County. Frenchy, a Rainbow spokesman, said if agreement can't be reached before then, the Family will have a "lawyer or two there." Family members dispute the state's claim that they have not shown adequate sanitary preparation for the gathering. Water supplies and sanitation are "our most serious preoccupation," Badger said. The Rainbow Family plans to hold its annual "Gathering of the Tribes" July 1-7 at the Nantahala National Forest. Officials have said 5,000 or more people could gather at the meeting. Members of the Rainbow Family requested the meeting with residents to show slides, talk about their past gatherings and answer questions from local residents. County Commissioner Raymond Williams said the meeting went well and Rainbow Family members agreed. Family members said most people who attend their gatherings stay close to the main campsites and will not be coming to town often. There is some nudity at the campsites, but nudity is confined to certain areas and "we won't be walking through town like that," one Family member said. Family members told the crowd that many of them have regular jobs and are taking their vacations to be at the gathering. One member said he is a shrimper, another a social worker, another an artist. One member said he served on a nuclear submarine in the U.S. Navy. Meanwhile, Graham County officials said earlier this week that they have not officially declared a state of emergency to deal with the Family. Following reports Tuesday that such an action had been taken, the state's area coordinator of the Division of Emergency Management apologized for the misunderstanding. W.F. Perrigo said Graham County officials "have not officially proclaimed a state of emergency, but they have requested mutual aid to be available due to the possible emergency conditions that could arise as a result of the Rainbow Family gathering." Perrigo told U.S. Forest Service officials Monday that county officials had declared an emergency. The term state of emergency is a "matter of semantics," Perrigo said. "I'm really sorry it happened." Perrigo said he assumed county officials had requested that an emergency be declared following several meetings with other emergency coordinators from surrounding counties to discuss mutual aid agreements. Graham County Commissioner Raymond Williams said the county asked for mutual aid assistance Sunday if it is needed. "We are planning for the worst in this thing and hopefully none of it will happen," he said. "We've made long-range plans, but we are far away from declaring an emergency." Last page !


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