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John Wethington: DeTerra wavers on turbines

FAIRHAVEN – Board of Health challenger John Wethington said this week his background as a registered nurse gives him the compassion necessary to deal with the town’s controversial wind turbines.

He said his work as a home health-care nurse has proven to him the benefits of community outreach and visiting residents in their homes. Specifically, he said, the board should visit residents having problems with the town’s two wind turbines.

“We need to be more involved in the community,” he said. “Of course, right now a lot of that is with the turbine issue.”

Wethington will face off against incumbent Peter DeTerra on Sept. 9. The two also ran against each other in April in an election that was ruled a tie and then thrown out by a Superior Court judge.

In April, the candidates shied away from focusing on the town’s controversial wind turbines, which some say cause sleep deprivation and other health effects.

This time around, the race seems to be squarely centered on the turbines, with pro- and anti-turbine groups forming political action committees in advance of the election.

Wethington criticized DeTerra this week for “waffling back and forth” on the turbine issue, first ordering an overnight shut down of the machines in June, then reversing that order in August.

“It’s like the old saying, ‘You’re not kind of pregnant, you’re either pregnant or you’re not,'” he said of the state’s finding the turbines had violated noise regulations multiple times. “It’s either a violation or it’s not. And it is, so what are we going to do about it?”

Wethington also accused DeTerra of considering the town’s financial situation in his turbine decisions, saying “whether you believe the turbines are causing health issues or not, it’s not in the Board of Health’s purview to make the town money.”

Wethington also defended himself against those who think he is the anti-turbine candidate, saying he wants to find a way for the turbines to coexist with neighbors.

“I have people from (turbine opposition group) WindWise on my re-election committee, but I’m not endowed to them for the rest of my life,” he said. “I’m not going out there with a blow torch and a screwdriver to take the turbines down.”

On issues not related to the turbines, Wethington did note that DeTerra had more training than he does in matters of the Board of Health, but also pointed out that the state will train whoever is elected.

“Whoever is on the Board of Health will have those certifications no matter what,” he said. “I can get his septic experience; he can’t get mine unless he goes to nursing school.”