Joseph J. Cominsky once got so worked up about wind energy that he suffered a heart attack.
Cominsky, a 69-year-old Paint Township resident, has been fighting the prospect of wind turbines on Shaffer Mountain in Ogle and Shade townships for more than a decade.
The heart attack occurred in 2008, two years after he started fighting Gamesa energy company’s efforts to build a wind farm on the mountain.
“My heart was in such bad shape; I had to have been a damn fool to doggone persist with it, but oh well,” he said with a chuckle. “Every year since that heart attack I celebrate as my birthday.”
The 2008 attack was one of three. Cominsky now has 14 stents in his heart, and he has a pacemaker and defibrillator.
“I hold a record down at Conemaugh (Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown),” the retired welder said of the level of a cardiac protein complex in his blood stream.
Cominsky’s passion for fighting prospective wind farms was aroused recently when a Chicago-based energy company began gathering wind data on the mountain.
The company, Invenergy, has constructed three meteorological towers in Ogle and Shade townships. The towers gather data to determine whether a wind farm is feasible. Representatives of the company have said that the process is in the preliminary stages and that any wind farm would be years away from construction.
Cominsky, who owns close to 80 acres on the mountain, has been vocal at public meetings in both municipalities, and at one Ogle gathering the township chairman closed the assembly when Cominsky refused to keep quiet. He has even written a song modeled after a John Denver tune in protest of Invenergy.
He gladly hands out copies to anyone willing to listen.
“That was 100 percent mine,” he said of the song with a laugh. “A little bit of plagiarism. Johnny Denver wrote a song about Peabody Coal Co., and anyhow, this isn’t coal or anything, but it’s pretty much the same beat as that.”
He has said that he is worried that property values will plummet if a wind farm moves to Shaffer Mountain. He has raised concerns about noise and shadows being cast by turbines. Invenergy representatives have refuted his claims.
“What makes it so special is the fact of the stream, the habitat and the ecology,” he said of the mountain. “I want to see it preserved for what it is.”
As far as his contributions to nature go, Cominsky dug a 6-acre, spring-fed lake on his property in the ‘80s. He said he and his family spend most weekends at a cabin he built above the lake.
Cominsky is also a wealth of knowledge about Crumtown, which was located on Shaffer Mountain in the 1800s.
He said the town sprung up sometime prior to the Civil War and thrived in the late 1800s.
He told many stories about the town to a Daily American reporter Thursday while being interviewed at his cabin above the lake. Some of the stories sounded more like local legend than historical fact.
“There’s supposed to be, in today’s value, like a million dollars that was stolen off of a stagecoach and was stashed in a tree,” he said. “No one ever found it, but it’s supposed to be in this area.
“The old people would say, ‘Yeah, I wish I could find that tree with all that money in there.’”
He said that he still keeps active on his land and that at times his wife worries because of his heart. He said, however, that his condition has not slowed him down.
“Live every day to the fullest and don’t worry about tomorrow,” he said. “It will come soon enough.”
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