PAXTON – Ford County Board members will meet on the next two Thursdays to continue their work on revising the county’s ordinance regulating wind farms.
On Monday night, the board set a zoning committee meeting for 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, in the first-floor courtroom at the courthouse in Paxton. The board also set a special meeting of the entire county board for 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, in the larger, second-floor courtroom.
Board members began reviewing the 10-year-old wind-farm ordinance in fall 2017 – following complaints from residents in the Kempton area who live near the Kelly Creek Wind Farm – and implemented a moratorium on the issuance of any more special-use permits for wind farms until the board completes its review. Among proposed changes expected to be made are an increase in the setbacks between wind turbines and homes and strengthened decommissioning requirements.
Despite numerous meetings being held on the issue, the board has been unable to reach a consensus on what changes to make – especially when it comes to what setbacks to require.
“It just seems like we don’t accomplish a whole lot each time,” board Chairman Bob Lindgren said recently. “It’s the setbacks – that’s the sticking point, and that’s where we’re going to have to come to some agreement on.”
In other business at Monday night’s county board meeting:
➜ The board voted to hire Buckley resident Terry Whitebird as the director of the Ford County Emergency Management Agency. Stipulations of the hiring included that he stay within the fiscal year 2019 budget for the agency; that he use his own person vehicle for which he will be reimbursed only when using it to and from work-related incidents and only when notified by dispatch; and that total salaries for the EMA director and any assistants he hires shall not exceed $750 per month, or $9,000 annually.
➜ The board voted to allow the public health department to fill a nurse vacancy. Public Health Administrator Lana Sample said that leaves her with one other nurse position to fill.
➜ The board agreed to hire a telecommunicator in the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Mark Doran said a correctional officer/telecommunicator is moving to a deputy position.
➜ The board agreed to hire a part-time employee in the treasurer’s office to work up to 1,000 hours during the tax-collections period. The chief deputy in the treasurer’s office will be on maternity leave for some of that time.
➜ The board approved law enforcement contracts between the county and Piper City and Sibley. Piper City will pay $25,000 and Sibley $8,948 per year.
➜ The board approved a resolution setting per-diem rates for mileage reimbursement for county employees at 58 cents per mile for the first 1,000 miles and 50.5 cents thereafter.
➜ The board approved the sheriff’s nominations of Aaron Scheutte and Doug Berry to the Ford County Sheriff’s Merit Commission.
➜ Several officials expressed their concern with the state-required Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) accounting. It is a process to be used on all grant money and must be done before the grant is received. Highway Engineer Greg Perkinson said it will not impact this year’s motor fuel tax funds, nor the bidding process for this year’s projects. Coroner Rick Flessner, speaking as Roberts’ village board president, said he wonders what impact the requirements will have on his village. Flessner said he does not consider motor fuel tax money a grant.
➜ Sample said there was a “catastrophic” server failure in the health department office. The county’s information technology (IT) firm was not able to retrieve the lost information. Sample said hard drives are currently with a California company that specializes in such retrieval. Sample promised the board that “this will never happen again” and that steps will be taken to ensure it does not.
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