Maple Valley Road, you know, “The back road to Meyersdale”? You don’t? Take 219 to Berlin, left on Main Street at the flashing yellow light, then south on Cumberland Highway.
As soon as you leave Berlin you are greeted on the left by a wonderful view of the Allegheny front stretching all the way to – yep, Cumberland, Md. It’s quite impressive. In the winter’s afternoon light it turns into that “purple mountain majesty” thing you’ve heard so much about. The camera folks making Lorenzo’s Oil were so struck by it that they included it in a scene in the movie. Many locals will remember Nick Nolte, holing up in his trailer. The again it was a winter day in Somerset County, we were all holed up somewhere.
You’ll know you are there also by the sight of the Meyersdale Turbine Facility way in the distance, and the piles of coal mining spoil when you look to the right. About three miles down the road is the back way to Meyersdale, Walker School Road. You’ll pass the Hillegas Farm, the Coleman Farm, the Bonomo Farm, the Paxton Farm, and others which are now in danger of property depreciation. You won’t see the turbines again until you hit Maple Valley Road at the top of the hill by the Hillcrest Grange. Then you can’t miss them. And they get bigger as you go south.
A few years back when we were still RD 3 Berlin, the 911 Planning Commitee needed a name for this road. It goes from the Hillcrest Grange, through the Berkeley Flats and hooks up with Main Street in Meyersdale. I submitted “Chicory Road” for the little blue flowers that grow wild along the side of the road. I was out voted. When the residents got wind of the change they got a petition together and everyone on the road signed it. Maple Valley Road it is because it goes past Maple Valley Park, long maintained by the Lions Club.
This road is the prefered route for Meyersdale residents to return home from The Whiskey Rebellion in Berlin. And the way Berlin folks go to the Maple Festival in Meyersdale. It’s the shortest way, and the prettiest, now.
Our current situation is the possibility of a turbine facility on that very same Allegheny Front. The owners of the ridge top have seen fit to sign on the dotted line with the wind energy companies for, oh, average $9,000 per year per owner. The one active farmer will get $3,000/yr. Another owner will get $18,000 per year for leasing the ridge for six turbines. They own the ridge. And the air between me and them that generated the wind. And the view. But, it’s not their view. They don’t live here.
But they own it. And the county commissioners and some of the township supervisors defend their choice to do with the ridge as they see fit. Because they own it. But what do we really own? Aren’t we just caretakers of this small planet for that brief instant between eternity and eternity called “life.” Who owns the wind?
This is why renewable energy is such an essential plan for the future. And conservation. And conservation is a much more intelligent solution. We have the technology to stop global warming- but wind turbines are not the answer. They are the problem. Wind energy is a flawed technology that is only viable by political intrusion into what should be the province of engineers who understand the science. Wind Turbine tax subsidies are a poorly considered attempt by the federal government to look “green.”
On Nov. 7 the people spoke. They are opposed to federal government intervention and federal spending that benefits large corporations to the detriment of the middle class. The federal subsidies for wind turbine construction should not be renewed, so that industry will be forced to find other, more efficient renewable energy sources. Perhaps the Somerset County commissioners should heed the voice of the many petitions that are already on their desks to rein in the windpower companies.
Or we could all just stop cursing the brightness and light up a compact fluorescent bulb or two, and wisely use the abundant energy we now have.
Photographs of the above mentioned views can be seen at this web page:
Dr. Rick Bonomo, Brothersvalley Twp
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding