After a petition signed by more than 700 and repeated discussions in recent weeks, the Union County Board of Supervisors will make a decision in response to the citizens’ concerns at their next weekly meeting July 20.
A group of citizens led by Francine Ide have asked the supervisors to declare a moratorium on allowing more wind energy conversion systems until six months after the current project is completed. Ide said that would allow the county to see any “red flags” that come up from the turbines that are installed.
County resident Roger Vicker shared that the manufacturer’s guidelines for the turbines recommend a 3,280-foot distance from a turbine during a lightning storm and spoke of a study that calculated the throw distance – the distance a broken blade tip or debris such as a piece of ice can be thrown from a spinning turbine blade – at 1540 feet for a 159-foot tower.
“We’ve got 600-foot towers going in,” Vicker said, adding that the throw distance of a taller tower would be much longer.
Ide and Vicker also referenced a Des Moines Register article that said Mid American Energy is not honoring its agreements with landowners, refusing to pay them the amount of crop damage that was promised.
Ide said the supervisors have a duty to protect the county’s citizens.
The supervisors have previously explained their responsibilities and authority do not allow them to interfere with private agreements between corporations and landowners. It is the landowners responsibility to ensure they have read and understand any contracts before they sign them.
“We’re talking about a situation where up front, on its face, the county’s really not involved,” Union County Attorney Tim Kenyon said.
See the June 9 issue of the Creston News Advertiser for his full comment.
The supervisors will also speak about the Iowa Utilities Board matter regarding wind turbines – the subject of a closed session during the July 6 meeting – during next week’s meeting.
Supervisor Ron Riley stressed that any decision the supervisors might reach to halt the approval of more wind turbines would be temporary.
Due to Emergency Management Director Jo Duckworth’s absence, Union County Auditor Sandy Hysell read a statement about cases in Union County. The county is up to 43 cases from 27 last week. Of those, 29 patients have recovered. The Test Iowa site has tested 1077 individuals.
The supervisors approved Union County Engineer Zach Gunsolley’s plan to solicit bids for the Joshua bridge project where the Federal Emergency Management Agency recognized his $55,000 estimate as accurate after prolonged negotiation.
Gunsolley said the FEMA money can only be used to repair the bridge to its pre-flood state. The majority of the $55,000 will be used to add temporary bracing to allow the repairs to be completed safely. Per FEMA rules, the bracing must then be removed.
The bridge has been closed for more than a year, forcing residents to make a 6-mile detour. It is slated to be replaced in 2023. Gunsolley could not guarantee the repairs would keep the bridge open until then.
“It would still be three (tons allowed on bridge),” he said. “It would stave off the closure. … I can’t guarantee the locals or the board that (it would last until 2023.)”
Riley was in favor of getting the bridge open.
“I would like to see us try to open it,” he said. “That’s three more years. … If it can buy us three years with those dollars, I think it’s dollars well spent.”
A request to wait until the FEMA money was in hand was put forth by supervisors Dennis Brown and Rick Friday. Gunsolley reminded the board that the reserve fund is currently healthy, but he stated he had no problem waiting.
Gunsolley will go ahead with the bidding process while waiting for the funds. The supervisors said they could revisit the idea of waiting if needed.
In other county business:
• Kenyon addressed community concerns about requiring masks in the courthouse, saying that the supervisors do not have the authority to require them in the county at large due to the state’s declaration of a public health emergency, which puts that authority in the hands of the governor. However, they do have authority in the courthouse itself. Requiring masks is one step they are taking to try to keep the courthouse open rather than having to revert to phase 1.
• the emergency radio project is on track for completion by the end of the month. Monday crews were running lines at the Lorimor water tower, where the need for painting had caused a delay.
• supervisors did not object to a request by Penny Carson to conduct a Bible reading on the courthouse lawn today.
• Shaun Lauer of building and grounds had presented the supervisors with a report on the expired fire extinguishers in the courthouse and law enforcement center. It will cost approximately $1500 to replace the fire extinguishers in the courthouse.
• the secondary roads auction has reaped approximately $21,000 in money received so far.
The Union County Board of Supervisors meets weekly 9 a.m. Monday at the Union County Courthouse, 300 N. Pine St. The supervisors are still meeting in person at this time, but the public is encouraged to submit comments for public forum by mail, email or telephone to help limit the gathering to ten participants.
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