It’s not unusual these days for discussion to become emotional at Ingersoll Township meetings.
At last week’s board meeting, emotions erupted during public comment regarding procedures to contact township attorney Peter Poznak. The board decided in December it needed to reach him regarding a township conflict of interest policy, which arose in discussion about potential wind turbine energy.
“I am the one who contacted the lawyer regarding the conflict of interest,” Township Clerk Mary Ellen Keel said. “As it is now, nobody can contact the lawyer without going through. We’re really slowing things up.”
Keel moved and trustee Curt Shaffner seconded, that Supervisor Chuck Tabb be notified or provide authorization for contact with the attorney.
With emotion in his voice, board member Jim Terwillegar challenged Tabb over transparency and communication. Terwillegar supports wind energy in the township.
“In my opinion, we don’t have any transparency going on here with the lawyer. I don’t know how I can be responsible for a decision when I don’t even know what is going on,” he said.
Terwillegar also suggested that the board be alerted when contact is made with the attorney to which Shaffner agreed.
“If you want to have it so we can go to the lawyer whenever, I do believe that we ought to have emails or correspondence of everything that is going on,” Jim Terwillegar said.
The motion passed 3-2 with Tabb, Keel and Shaffner all voting in favor. Jim Terwillegar and Jake Terwillegar both voted against.
During the final public hearing, a resident challenged Tabb regarding township consultant Rob Eggers, who is a resident of Ingersoll Township. The question was if Tabb had contacted the attorney regarding a conflict of interest. Tabb chose not to answer the question.
Another resident stated how sad she was to pull into the township parking lot and see a Midland County Sheriff’s vehicle, and added that the deputy has better things to do than deal with “piddly feelings.”
Even with a deputy in the room, the argument continued to elevate when one resident stood up and interrupted another woman. The two, who represent opposing sides in the wind turbine issue, began to raise their voices and argue.
While the second person was speaking, a man stood up. Tabb asked the man to sit down.
“No,” the man firmly responded.
Tabb then asked if the man wanted to leave and he responded with a resounding, “Yes.”
“OK, there is the door,” Tabb said, which brought another strong response from Jim Terwillegar.
“Wait a minute Chuck. That’s not fair. She stood up and interrupted the other person and now you are telling him to leave,” Terwillegar said.
Still standing, the man also responded in a very loud voice, “You’re saying one side of the residents don’t matter, but the other side is perfectly fine. If you’re on the other side, we’re just dirt and we don’t matter. You just told me to leave when I stood up. You gave her the time of the day when she stood up.”
After that four people began talking all at once – until Tabb decided to adjourn the meeting.