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County board hears about wind power during meeting

A group opposed to the Dakota Range Wind project will have to wait a week to request a 180-day moratorium on the wind energy proposal.

Save Our State is comprised mainly of citizens from Codington, Grant and Deuel Counties who are against wind turbines being placed in those counties. Dakota Range Wind, a proposed project by Apex Clean Energy of New Charlottesville, Va., is awaiting approval from the S.D. Public Utilities Commission to begin putting up wind turbines in Codington and Grant Counties.

At Tuesday morning’s Codington County Commission meeting, the first reading of Ordinance 68 took only a handful of minutes and was explained by county zoning officer Luke Muller. Ordinance 68 changes some of the language regarding wind energy systems that was written into Ordinance 65, adopted in 2016.

The next agenda item was SOS’s request for a moratorium on Dakota Range. Amber Christenson of SOS approached the commissioners with a long list of complaints.

But since Tuesday was the first reading of Ordinance 68, commission chairman Myron Johnson quickly stated that comments could not be taken, telling Christenson, “There will be no give-and-go on communication on this issue” because it’s a violation of state law.

Resistance to Dakota Range has been noted at both county and PUC public hearings. The next round will be during the May 8 commission meeting in the courthouse. Starting time is 9:30 a.m.

The commissioners did allow Christenson to summarize, and she enumerated a few of the reasons why SOS is against the project. Resistance to wind energy killed a wind energy proposal in Deuel County and has in part delayed the Crocker Wind Farm Project in Clark County.

Among the non-contentious items during Tuesday’s meeting was the commissioners approving a request by Watertown’s Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer to construct a concrete patio and windbreak at Memorial Park.

LCOOR uses the park for Sunday services during the summer and will pay for the patio and windbreak. Once completed, management, maintenance and liability of the concrete gathering area will be the county’s responsibility.

The commissioners also approved a budgeted payment of $7,563 for a new roof on one of the buildings at Memorial Park. Facilities manager Milo Ford said the building once served as the chapel for the YMCA. Construction will include replacing two layers of shingles with a steel roof.

Ford, who along with his wife Carol are the new managers of Memorial Park, told the commissioners that registration revenues are ahead of 2017 and that park preparations are “coming along quite well.” The park opens this weekend.

The commissioners also:

• Heard from commissioner Lee Gabel that the remodeling of the courthouse will begin next Monday, May 7;

• Heard the second reading and approved the vacation of a public right-of-way in Kampeska Township;

• Heard monthly reports from 4-H advisor Jodi Loehrer and welfare director Sarah Petersen;

• Approved a resolution supporting Wildfire Awareness Month;

• Approved the 2018 consolidated board of equalization meeting minutes, and

• Heard a Feeding South Dakota report from Rev. Sarah Nelson of First United Methodist Church and FUMC board member Robert Schultz. Nelson said Watertown is well represented by the different anti-hunger groups. Feeding South Dakota does come to Watertown three to four times a year and last time provided 14,000 pounds of food to almost 800 people. The next session will be held May 23 at the Brig. Gen. Ernie Edwards Readiness Center.