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Wind farm issue draws too many to hold meeting

EUREKA – A flood of people vying for seats or a place to stand at the Woodford County Annex building forced officials to reschedule what is expected to be a contentious county board meeting on a proposed wind farm.

Board Chairman John Krug called the Tuesday evening meeting to order about a half an hour late after he, State’s Attorney Michael Stroh and other county officials tried in vain to find an alternate location that could accommodate the overflowing crowd.

Shortly after the meeting’s roll call, Stroh told the packed group the meeting was postponed until 6:30 p.m. May 29. The exact location, still undetermined Tuesday night, will be announced soon through the local media, he added.

“As you all can see tonight, we got a lot of people in the room, and we have a couple issues in regards to that with the law,” he said before the standing-room-only group.

Stroh explained the Open Meetings Act prohibits a governmental body from shutting out anyone from a public meeting. At the same time, he conceded the board was not about to create a fire hazard by exceeding the room’s maximum capacity. As specified by the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office, the room can hold 128 people, which kept a group of about 30 barred outside Tuesday.

In the end, the board voted to recess the meeting and continue with its agenda on May 29.

The board was expected to deal with the controversial El Paso wind farm development until the project was pulled from the board’s agenda at the request of Krug. The move caused a tug-of-war to erupt over the item on the agenda, leading to four separate agendas – some with and some without the item – to be sent out to board members or posted to the public.

The room was nearly bursting at the seams a full 30 minutes before the 6:30 p.m. start time. Many of the spectators lining the walls sported buttons that pictured a wind turbine stamped with a circle and a line through it. Others wore yellow stickers with the phrase “NO WIND” written in red.

Jay Etcheson of El Paso said the show was to let board members know many are upset with the board’s movement on the wind farm and still oppose the project.

“This isn’t just a couple of people against this,” he said as the mass of people spilled out into the parking lot.

By By Frank Radosevich II
GateHouse News Service

Lincoln Courier

21 May 2008