The Belle Creek Town Board finds the Republican Eagle’s recent portrayal of the Nov. 28 meeting misleading. Your story states, “a room full of angry residents verbally attacked (Richard) Samuelson” and “the gathering became so heated … that Samuelson called law enforcement officials upon leaving that night.”
Citizens were passionate, and it is likely some of them were angry at Commissioner Samuelson. However, we heard nothing we would describe as “verbally attacked.” In fact, Mr. Samuelson stood and stated his position on the wind energy issue for several minutes uninterrupted.
The citizens who were seated remained seated; those standing in the back of the room remained where they were. No one approached Mr. Samuelson. If anything, citizens stared in silence.
Several citizens asked Mr. Samuelson clarifying questions. The only time citizens interrupted was when he assured the crowd that they will have a 10-rotor diameter set back from their homes. Many citizens spoke out to correct Mr. Samuelson at the same moment stating variously, “No, we don’t”, or, “We only get a six-rotor diameter set back.”
Eventually, the board closed our public comment period and voted on a motion to defend our township at the court of appeals. The meeting was well attended, but orderly.
Many citizens stayed after the meeting to chat with their neighbors. We were all surprised when a Goodhue County sheriff’s deputy showed up a few minutes later. It appeared to take the deputy about five seconds to ascertain that there was a room full of peaceful, happy people talking.
We have reviewed the dispatcher’s report of Richard Samuelson’s 911 call and conclude the report reflects more or less what we observed: that citizens stared at Mr. Samuelson. We are sorry that Mr. Samuelson felt it necessary to call 911.
However, we do not believe that citizens staring at an elected official for failing to represent their interests makes them “an unruly group,” as Samuelson said in his call to dispatch. We saw and heard nothing that would lead us to think anyone was in any danger. We agree with the deputy’s conclusion: “Everything was fine.”
Belle Creek Town Board
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