LEWISTOWN – Two representatives of the group “Friends of Jack’s Mountain” were on hand at Thursday’s business meeting of the Mifflin County Commissioners to present the results of surveys taken from residents in the affected areas for proposed wind turbines on Jack’s Mountain in Mifflin County and Stone Mountain in Huntingdon County.
An overwhelming majority of residents in those areas are not in favor of the wind turbines being proposed., according to the survey results.
“We’re here as concerned citizens who formed a community action group,” stated Cindy Harvey, who was accompanied by area resident Don Chesney. “When we first got together we started looking at what our purpose was and it’s twofold: To educate the community about turbines and to work closely with townships to pass ordinances and regulations.”
Harvey said the group has had two public meetings and has surveyed those in attendance with most against the installation of the turbines.
Chesney, who said he lives at the upper end of Little Kansas and will have a direct sight-line to where the turbines are being proposed, said he has visited other wind turbine fields similar to the one proposed in Mifflin County, most notably one that is located along Route 99 in Blair County, and he said the noise levels generated are staggering.
“I went to look at the side effects,” he noted. “I was amazed. The first and most obvious was the noise and to see first-hand these massive machines.”
Chesney said he is organizing a group of six to nine individuals from the county to join him on a visit April 13 to the turbines he described. “We’ll be able to stand right under these things,” he said. “They’re on my friend’s land and he deeply regrets it.”
Chesney said the most obvious difference between the Blair County turbines and the proposed turbines on Jack’s Mountain is the geography. “This mountain is completely different than Jack’s Mountain,” he stated. “That mountain is as flat as a football field. On Jack’s Mountain you can’t walk side-by-side because it’s so steep. Once these things are done, it’s too late.”
Commissioner Mark Sunderland said the most important thing Friends of Jack’s Mountain can do is to go through the local governments and request ordinances to restrict the turbines and/or regulate them tightly.
Chesney said his group has been working with Oliver Township officials on the issue. It was also noted that Union Township has enacted an ordinance on turbines and neighboring townships Menno, Oliver and Granville are working on ordinances as well.
Chesney then reiterated his group’s opposition to the proposed plan.
“When you’re actually standing underneath these things, they’re just absolutely massive,” he said. “We don’t want them here. There’s no benefit. It will only hurt our property values.”
Harvey said another meeting of the concerned residents has been scheduled for May 8 at the Lewistown Middle School.
In other business Thursday, the subject of Children & Youth and the recent investigation by the Department of Welfare into numerous complaints and citations was raised again by a group of concerned citizens.
“Children & Youth continues to treat people disrespectfully and without dignity,” stated Karen French, a Mifflin County resident who works for the Perry County Children & Youth department. “I’m amazed at how one agency or employee can cause such a trickling down effect in the county because of the way it operates. They tell you to do it their way or lose your family. If you have to remove a child because of an immediate threat of harm, the protocols say the first place you need to look (for help) is the family.”
In response to French’s claims, Sunderland said, “As I’ve stated over and over again, as soon as somebody in authority who has a lot more brains that I do tells me you’ve got issues that need to be resolved and heads need to roll, I will be the first one raising the flag. When DPW did their investigation they wanted to know if we would welcome it and we said yes. Until somebody in authority comes to us and says this is what’s wrong. I honestly don’t know what to do. DPW told us that corrective measures have been put in place. They also said it’s a well managed operation. DPW are the ones who have the authority. If they say, ‘We feel it’s well run and you need to put in some corrective action,’ we do that. If they go behind our backs and say there are issues, then I lose respect for them.”
French added, “We have a list of concerns and I hope you’ll keep a close eye on this.”
In other business, the commissioners adopted a proclamation honoring local boy scout Alan G. Parker, who on October 29 of last year achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
Parker’s Eagle Scout project included renovating the Milroy White Memorial Church fellowship hall. Those renovations included repairing and painting the plastered walls of the fellowship hall, totaling 235 hours of service. Parker is currently assistant scoutmaster for Troop 106. He has previously served as junior assistant scoutmaster and is a brotherhood member of the Order of Arrow.
“The Eagle Scout award is recognized by the commissioners of Mifflin County as a positive indicator that the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow and we extend our congratulations to Alan Parker,” Sunderland read from the proclamation.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Helen Kirk expressed frustration at the time some county employees are settling in for their work day.
“I would like to ask the commissioners to seriously consider putting in a time clock.,” she said. “There are employees here that are supposed to be at their desks serving the public at 8 o’clock and they’re still outside parking their cars or whatever. You can take any county building and sit and watch how many employees aren’t at their desk by 8 o’clock. With all due respect, you three need to get some backbone and deal with these situations.”
Sunderland noted that employees working for other elected officials do not fall under the jurisdiction of the commissioners. “All the elected officials have the right to hire, fire or discipline employees,” he said.
Commissioner Kevin Kodish said the board will bring Kirk’s concerns to the next county department head meeting.
In other business, the commissioners:
Approved a resolution authorizing an application for a National Park Service, Chesapeake Bay Office, Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Program grant to help fund the proposed boat launch project near McVeytown.
Approved an application for a Mifflin County Victims of Juvenile Crime grant in the amount of $6,876.
Approved an application for a Byrne Justice Assistant Grant for up to $149,866 to provide housing for inmates with mental health and/or substance abuse issues when they are released from prison.
Approved the hiring of Adam Boreman as a probation officer effective March 31.
Approved the hiring of Christina Hallinan as a probation officer effective March 31.
Approved the hiring of Charles Angney as a part-time security guard and, as needed, deputy sheriff, effective March 31.