The Gentry County Commission will rely on a technicality in its fight against a civil lawsuit surrounding a new wind farm.
Charles Allen Porter filed the federal court lawsuit in late March against the commission and Associate Commissioner Gary Carlson. Mr. Porter alleged that Mr. Carlson assaulted him over his opposition to the Bluegrass Ridge Wind Farm located near King City. He also said the facility has harmed his family, destroyed his property and caused him to lose sleep. Several wind turbines are located within 2,000 feet of Mr. Porter’s property.
Mr. Porter said Mr. Carlson punched him during a Feb. 2 confrontation on a rural road. The lawsuit said the assault stemmed from Mr. Porter’s disagreement over Bluegrass Ridge building the farm near his property. The farm, which became operational last year, creates power that is purchased by the region’s electric cooperatives.
On Friday, an attorney representing the commission filed a response that seeks to dismiss the court action since it wasn’t properly served to the county. Presiding Commissioner Rod Dollars wasn’t present at the courthouse March 25 when the paperwork was given to Associate Commissioner Larry Wilson, said attorney Steven F. Coronado. Mr. Carlson also was present.
“Because plaintiff has failed to properly serve process upon the county, the court is without jurisdiction over the county,” Mr. Coronado said.
The only other means of proper service would have been through the county clerk, he said.
Attorney Charles Speer said he intends to serve the county, this time ensuring Mr. Dollars and the county clerk’s office receive the paperwork.
Gentry County Sheriff Eugene Lupfer said a report on the altercation between Mr. Porter and Mr. Carlson was referred to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, since a conflict of interest exists involving Mr. Carlson as commissioner. A deputy responded to the fight.
Residents of King City apparently discuss Mr. Porter’s case, but not in public. Most lunchtime diners at TJ’s Corner Cafe suddenly became mute when asked to speak Monday about the matter.
However, Phyllis Lewis said she realizes the windmills are a benefit and isn’t surprised there’s a dispute over their existence.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” she said. “There’s been animosity between Gary and him before. It tore up the family.”
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages for hospital and other medical bills. The Porters have lived in the home for 15 years.
Both attorneys said there are no court dates currently pending in the case.
by Ray Scherer
16 April 2008
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