Union County Commissioner Mark Davidson said Tuesday the county is taking “all appropriate steps” to investigate allegations that Planning Director Hanley Jenkins improperly deleted e-mails concerning the proposed Antelope Ridge Wind Farm.
At the same time, Davidson said he could not provide any information on the progress of the investigation.
“Union County takes allegations against employees very seriously and the county will take appropriate action when such allegations are made. That being said, the county does not comment on ongoing specific personnel issues,” Davidson said in a prepared statement.
Dennis Wilkinson, head of the anti-wind farm group Friends of the Grande Ronde Valley, claims to have a source in the planning department who says Jenkins deleted e-mails last February when Wilkinson filed an Oregon public records request asking for all documents about the wind farm.
Wilkinson said the source told him about the deletions Aug. 25. Wilkinson also claims that during an Aug. 30 meeting with Wilkinson and his wife Pamela, County Commissioner Steve McClure “confirmed” that Jenkins deleted e-mails.
In an executive session Sept. 1, the board of commissioners assigned County Counsel Brandon Eyre and County Administrative Officer Shelley Burgess to look into whether Jenkins did delete e-mails.
In another executive session Sept. 10, the board met to discuss the issue again. Media are allowed to sit in on executive sessions, but are not allowed to publish the proceedings.
In a recent related matter, Wilkinson submitted another public records request Sept. 11, asking that communication between the planning department and Horizon from 2008 to the present be retrieved from the county’s main frame computer and provided to Wilkinson.
In a reply to the request Sept. 17, Burgess said that e-mails directed to county computers are initially received by the server, then downloaded to individual computers when employees open their in-boxes or check for new e-mails.
She said that once an e-mail is downloaded to a particular computer it is no longer on the server. She also said that e-mails sent from individual county computers pass through the server but are not retained on the server.
For those reasons, Burgess said the county has no documents to provide in response to Wilkinson’s Sept. 11 request.
Monday, Wilkinson submitted another records request, asking the county for all documents and communication between Horizon and the Planning Department from Feb. 16 to the present.
Wilkinson and Friends of the Grande Ronde Valley are staunchly opposed to Horizon Wind Energy’s plans to build the 300-megawatt Antelope Ridge facility in the Craig Mountain area near Union.
Horizon’s application to build the facility is pending before the Oregon Department of Energy’s Energy Facility Siting Council.
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