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County wind issue a hot topic

It was an exercise designed to give local residents an opportunity to share their feelings on wind turbines in Prince Edward County and they had plenty to share.

Loyalist College journalism student Nicole Kleinsteuber used the Internet Wednesday evening to host Moving Forward, an online conversation on wind turbines in the municipality and the response was overwhelming.

Kleinsteuber, a Cherry Valley native, along with journalism professor Rob Washburn moderated the 90-minute session which was so busy at times, the server could not keep up with the questions being asked.

“We certainly didn’t see that coming,” joked a tired Kleinsteuber. “But it wasn’t without some problems. We had so many posts coming in at one time, some of the questions didn’t get posted and people weren’t happy about that.

“I started getting e-mails at six o’clock this morning and some people weren’t happy – they thought we were censoring the questions, but that definitely wasn’t the case. We had so many comments coming in at the same time, it caused some technical problems.”

Six panelists including MPP Todd Smith, Mayor Peter Mertens, John Legate from the County Sustainability Group, John Thompson, former Sophiasburgh councillor and past president of the PEC federation of agriculture, Kevin Surette, communications Manager at WPD Canada and Treat Hull, the Green Party candidate for Prince Edward Hastings in the last provincial election fielded questions from visitors to Kleinsteuber’s Prince Edward County Voice website.

“We thought we had a diverse field of panelists and what we were trying to do is avoid a debate and see if we could bring out new information,” she explained. “A lot of what has been said in the past has been said over and over and I think it’s extremely important to bring new information forward as much as we can.”

Kleinsteuber said she and Washburn were both pleased with the range of questions and the activity the discussion generated.

“We had 226 visits and what pleased me most was that people were using their real names and not hiding their identity,” Kleinsteuber said. “People in the Country have a real stake in this and they were not afraid to put their names on it and make the comments or ask the questions they needed to.

“Being part of this community, I’ve seen this debate go on for a long time and the one thing I saw (Wednesday) night is that people really do want to move forward toward a resolution. There is so much information coming down the pipeline and it’s hard to decipher what’s true and what’s not – but I really think people want to get past this stalemate and move forward as a community.”

Moving forward isn’t the last public forum planned regarding wind turbines in Prince Edward County. Smith has scheduled what he has termed a ‘town hall meeting’ for Feb. 2, at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 31 King St. in Picton beginning at 6 p.m.

For a complete record of Wednesday’s Moving Forward discussion, visit www.princeedwardcountyvoice.ca .