Activity is apparently occurring behind the scenes in preparation for a wind farm to expand into Dickinson County.
During the Aug. 6 meeting, Dickinson County Commissioner Craig Chamberlin said the commission had received an email from a resident asking a number of questions about the county’s policy regarding the Diamond Vista wind farm located south of Abilene in Marion County.
Owned by Enel Green Power North America, the Diamond Vista wind farm is visible but no turbines are located in Dickinson County. Even though wind farm representatives have expressed interest in expanding into Dickinson County, no applications have been filed nor have any permits been issued.
However, based on the questions posed in the email, County Administrator Brad Homman speculated the resident sending the e-mail probably knew more about what was going on than county officials did.
That seems to be the case.
During the Aug. 13 commission meeting, Homman said after the story appeared in the Reflector-Chronicle, he was contacted by a couple citizens who reported wind farm representatives had reached out to them.
Homman reported that one woman – who lives at the south end of the county – said she was visited by people representing Tradewind Energy of Lenexa, the wind farm developer, “wanting to get some occupancy rights purchased in advance,” he said.
“Apparently there are some things in the works with property owners,” Homman explained. “But we have not received a conditional use request. Like we said, they (property owners) know more about it than we do. Apparently there’s something going on with what they call the Hope Ridge wind farm.”
During the bi-weekly jail construction meeting with Construction Manager Loyd Buildings, county officials learned work is running behind schedule so the completion date may be closer to Thanksgiving instead of the second or third week of November.
“That’s a moving target. If things go well, we can pull back in within that or we can go a little farther out if we have hiccups,” Homman said. “They’re trying to keep on track as much as they can.”
Once the new jail is completed, work will begin on phase 2 of the construction project which is the renovation of the 64-year-old courthouse. During that time, all county offices will be moved to other locations so work can proceed.
Several offices – including the County Clerk, Treasurer and Register of Deeds – will move to the Abilene Civic Center, while Dickinson County District Court will move to Sterl Hall.
Homman said he does not believe a couple weeks delay in moving will be a problem.
When plans were initially made to utilize county-owned Sterl Hall, there were concerns that the Central Kansas Free Fair which rents out the hall would lose revenue. However, with COVID-19 and the resulting changes, many events have been cancelled.
“When we looked at the window we could get Sterl Hall, we had things that were leased and issues we were trying to fit in to minimize their loss,” Homman said. “But at this point that’s not a problem because they (fair board) don’t have any revenue coming off of it.”
Also, the projected delay will give the County Clerk’s office some extra time to pack following the busy General Election in early November and will give county IT staff and others time to install needed equipment at the temporary locations.
“I don’t know that it’s going to be problematic,” Homman said of the delay.
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