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Citizens deserve voice on turbines

I feel that there are a lot of similarities between the turbine project and what Logansport faced back in 2013.

When Logansport CARE (Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy/Logansport Power) became vocal about the dangers of the Pyrolyzer plant, I stood by and watched it play out. I felt that it would not have an effect on me. I was mistaken.

Everything that happens in our town and county affects us all. The carcinogens from the incinerator would have been emitted into the air, and would have found their way outside the city limits. The CARE/Logansport Power supporters were concerned about their health, property values, businesses, schools as well as the large debt that the city would owe from the proposed project. They felt overwhelmed. Their complaints and concerns were unheard and dismissed by city officials.

I feel there is a parallel between the CARE/Logansport Power and the Cass County Property Rights group. We too are fighting a true David and Goliath battle. We too feel that we are being dismissed – our complaints and concerns go unheard. We are worried about our property values, health, businesses, schools as well as our property rights, water and financial burden left for our county to pay when this is all said and done.

We have asked the commissioners for an evening meeting so residents could come after work hours, but have been denied repeatedly. We, like CARE/Logansport Power, have compared several cities’, towns’ and countries’ negative experiences with these large “green energy” companies. As one of the members of the CARE/Logansport Power posted on their Facebook page, “He is a salesman just doing his job. His ‘job’ is to sell us his product.” This is true for the sales representatives of RES (Renewable Energy Systems), with the promise of big money to the landowners, neighbors and our county officials. RES preaches that we need to save Earth from fossil fuels, CO2 emissions and foreign oil dependencies. The fact is, we will never be free from any of those things. RES’s parent company is Sir Robert McAlpine, which is a fossil fuel company.

RES director Brad Lila said that RES is looking into 3.6 to 4.2 MW turbines to be placed in Cass County. RES has used the turbines manufactured by VESTAS. Their manual states that the height to the tip of the blade of a 3.5 MW is 660 feet tall and the 4.2 MW version is 820 feet. There has never been a turbine of these heights built on U.S. soil. So I ask: Why here in Cass County?

When Cass County passed the WECS (Wind Energy Conversion System) ordinance in 2009, it was patterned after White County’s ordinance with a turbine setback of 1,000 feet from the nearest corner of residential dwellings to the center of the WECS tower. In 2009, turbines were half the height in White and Benton County at 328-400 feet tall. Adding a garage or an addition onto your home is not allowed if your house is within the 1,000 ft. setback.

Kevin Burkett, now editor of the Pharos-Tribune, quoted Jimmy Carter in a June 23, 2013 guest column in the paper: “Access to information is a crucial element in the effort to reduce corruption, increase accountability and deepen trust among citizens and their government.” Then Burkett stated, “The citizens of Logansport must have access to clear, non-partisan, scientific data showing not only the pros and cons of pyrolysis, but also the potential economic, environmental and health impacts – a true cost/benefit analysis that provides citizens with full range of possible outcomes.”

Replace the word “Logansport” with “Cass County,” and replace “pyrolysis” with “RES” – then Burkett’s statement would be exactly what CCPR has been saying from day one! Dave Kitchell wrote on March 3, 2015: “Logansport residents deserve more transparency from their public servants and people who will take responsibility for their actions and not pretend they can only take credit for accomplishments.” Again, replace “Logansport” with “Cass County” and I couldn’t have said it better, Mr. Mayor.

After the mayoral election was decided, Kitchell was quoted in the Pharos Tribune (Dec. 17, 2015): “I have met with Cass County Commissioner President, Jim Sailors, and I think we’re both excited about some of the projects the city and county can finally collaborate on, and the end result will definitely benefit LMU.”

This is why it is so important for ALL Cass County residents to become aware of what is going on in our county. We will ALL be impacted in some way, and should consider what we want looming just 1,000 feet away from our backdoor.

— Lora Redweik is a resident of Twelve Mile