Could Turkey Heaven Mountain be the next location for a wind farm that would use massive wind-powered turbines atop steel towers to generate electricity?
Cleburne County Ex-Officio Chairman Ryan Robertson said he has been approached by a representative of Wind Capital Group, the leading wind energy firm in the Midwest, who has expressed interest in the Turkey Heaven area for a possible wind farm. “They have talked with Alabama Power and they have done studies. Right now this is all speculation but a study here would take one to one and a-half years. But they are interested in locating a mid-size farm here. Their biggest concern is the size of the giant wind turbines. They are concerned about killing birds and bats in the area and they say the facility would probably become a tourist attraction. It would be a great big plus for Cleburne County if this were to happen. Tax wise, it would be great and if it should come to pass, they are interested in working the road up the mountain as it would have to be in shape to haul the turbines and towers up there,” Robertson reported. He said two other sites are being considered in the state – Chandler Mountain over in St. Clair County and an area near the coast in Baldwin County. “There is no guarantee but it is a legitimate company,” added Robertson. According to their web page at www.windcapitalgroup.com , the company was formed in 2005 and is committed to harnessing clean, renewable sources of energy, creating jobs and developing a strong foundation for domestic energy independence. Wind Capital Group has already completed several wind farms with major financing from John Deere and including Bluegrass Ridge, Gentry County MD; Cow Branch Wind Energy Center in Atchison County, MO; Conception Wind Farm in Nodaway County, MO; Whispering Willows Wind Farm in Franklin County, IA; Bent Tree Wind Farm in Freeborn County, MN and Lost Creek in DeKalb County, MO. Steven Lines, representing the Cleburne County Chamber of Commerce, came before the commissioners to answer any questions they might have concerning the group. The CCCC and commission are considering a mutual contract for service in which the county will pay the chamber for one year commencing Jan. 1, 2012 the sum of $10,800 for services including a program for economic and industrial development, a staff to provide services, to endeavor to attract and promote new and expanding industry, gather and distribute information regarding agricultural, industrial and manufacturing prospects, develop promotional tools such as maps, charts, photos, brochures; work with existing industry for expansions, work closely with state agencies and educational facilities; serve as principle public relations and information agency for the county, assist potential new and expanding businesses and do all necessary to foster and promote the county. Robertson said the chamber has been very active and helping promote the county, particularly generating interests in the bicycle and canoeing trails.Cleburne County Commissioner Emmett Owen said he thinks it a great idea to help the chamber. Lines said the chamber is working to get a presence in the county and noted that many of their past problems were due to lack of funding. He said all chamber work is now volunteer except for one paid position. “We are just trying to secure the future of the chamber,” he added. In further discussion of trails, Cleburne County Engineer Shannon Robbins said the portion of the Chief Ladiga Trail that runs through Cleburne County is in “bad condition” and told the commission they “might have to pull out of the contract with the City of Piedmont” unless they follow through as promised to keep the trail maintained. “That is a shock,” said Cleburne County Executive Officer Steve Swafford.
Cleburne County Extension Coordinator Debbie Mathews updated the commission on a number of items.
She praised Owen for his help to correct drainage issues at the Extension office on Brockford Road, talked about plans for a butterfly garden at Coleman Lake, praised Leadership Cleburne for re-establishing the chamber, informed the group that 12 seniors will be participating in Youth Leadership Cleburne County, pointed out that regional Extension agents continue to serve the county and that an iPad program to teach nutrition will be introduced in the schools this fall.
Mathews brought a sweep net to the meeting and discussed how they can be used to detect army worms which have now been found in fields and yards in Randolph County.
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