ARKWRIGHT – Harold Ross, a self-reported stage 4 cancer patient, was aggressive in stating that anti-wind farm advocates should lay off, adding, “They don’t bother nobody.” Minutes later, he was in the face of Jake Szumigala threatening to escalate the issue into fisticuffs.
During the public comments section of the Arkwright Town Board meeting on Monday, Ross was quick to stand and speak.
“Yeah, I got one, y’all want to complain,” Ross began before being stopped by Town Clerk Tammie Wichlacz asking for him to state his name. “Excuse me, y’all want to complain about this man, this man (pointing toward wind farm representatives) and (say) it’s noisy. … Since Mr. (Councilman Roger) Cardot’s family is so important, I would like to say I got less than six months.”
Town Supervisor Fred “Nick” Norton slammed the gavel multiple times to hinder the isolation of one board member and asked Ross to speak to the board as a whole. Ross’ comments stemmed from the councilman’s comments he previously said about the wind farm’s noise.
Cardot stated that he heard complaints from others in the area that the noise was harmful. He added that this time of the year is also the end of the academic year, thus tests are coming. The wind farm project Representatives told the board that they will forewarn the possibility of expanding their hours of the day to be earlier and end later. The board, due to the agreement, couldn’t say no, but the wind farm reps added that this is just a precaution.
Ross did not take it lightly that Cardot was expressing anti-wind project thoughts or sentiments. The resident of Creek Road with turbine 28, he said, on his property was adamant to compare Arkwright before the incident with the emphasis that not much has changed.
“Everybody wants to say that nobody can sleep,” Ross began. “Now, I got stage 4 cancer. I am awake 24 hours a day. I watch Gernatt dump trucks drive down Creek Road, I watch them drive up. … They don’t bother nobody; the tractors that drive by wake me up more than anything that these folks are going to do.
“If I can’t sleep then some little kid doesn’t need to sleep neither,” he continued later. “I am 60 years old and I have paid taxes in this town for almost 28 years and I am going to be dead in a few. I ain’t going to get nothing from this.”
The conversation went back against Cardot as Ross said he was making the wind project workers’ Arkwright experience “miserable and tough.”
As it seemed it would come to an end, Ross was giving his final comments and then turned toward Szumigala before the exit.
“I like sitting on my porch watching this,” Ross said. Then approaching Szumigala and leaning into his face, Ross added, “They go round and round and round and I hope the town and me make money, money, money,” he said with an escalated tone and aggression.
“Get the hell out of my face,” Szumigala replied.
“Go ahead,” Ross said.
As tensions grew, Town Councilman Larry Ball stood up with board members asking him to sit. Ball, who would stature over many men and women, said with his deep voice, “Gentlemen, please.”
After a few grimaces of threatening chatter, the two separated from each other. Ross, as he walked away, wanted to toss more fuel on the embers of the fire.
“My apologies, seeing how you’re so sensitive and you’re delicate,” Ross said before he walked out of the room.
Szumigala waited a few seconds, went to the hinged-open door of the town hall and then reconsidered as he walked back to his chair.
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