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County readies for wind farm meetings

OSWEGO – Labette County commissioners on Monday discussed setting up work sessions or just visiting on normal meeting days to discuss the wind farm issue and the recommendations from a panel charged with researching wind energy.

The brief discussion occurred during the first meeting for 2nd District Commissioner Brian Kinzie, who was sworn in Monday along with other elected officials. Commissioner Cole Proehl began serving his elected term on Monday as well. He’s been on the commission since late last year to complete the term of former Commissioner Doug Allen.

Commissioner Lonie Addis wanted to have work sessions to review the recommendations of wind farm committee members. He didn’t want the public to have a chance to speak at the work sessions because commissioners needed to discuss the issues. He said the time for public comment on the issue would come during regular commission meetings when the topic comes up and before commissioners make a decision.

Commissioners also want to visit with Brandon Hernandez of RWE, the German utility company that’s exploring the development of a wind farm in the western half of Labette County. This could be by phone or in person. Proehl wanted to find out more details of what RWE is planning and if Hernandez knows about the size or scope of the wind farm. Proehl said he wanted to take his time and gather information before making decisions related to wind energy.

County Counselor Brian Johnson is collecting reports from committee members and will share recommendations with county commissioners.

No decisions were made about scheduling work sessions or discussion periods during regular meetings. Proehl wanted the issue to be discussed sooner rather than later.

In other matters, the commission:

— Heard from Jack Dyke about road maintenance issues on Elk Road between 27000 and 26000 roads. He learned Monday that the county dropped shale on the road and had planned to put regular road rock on top of that but rain interrupted. The shale is sticky when wet, Dyke said. Addis said once the road dries county crews will be adding AB3 rock as planned to that stretch of road.

— Named the Labette Avenue in Oswego as the official county newspaper. The Sun was the official paper in 2020, a designation used for legal notices. Addis suggested next year the commission may need to revisit the rotation between the Labette Avenue and the Parsons Sun.

— Met in closed session for a total of 15 minutes with Johnson for attorney-client privileged information.

— Agreed to increase breakfast allowances for county employees who were traveling on county business to $14 from $10 per meal. Lunch allowances increased from $15 to $17 and dinner increased from $25 to $30.

— Agreed to extend COVID-19 leave into 2021. County employees would get paid leave for up to two weeks during the year if quarantined or isolated because of exposure to the virus or illness. The same leave was offered in 2020.

— Agreed to transfer $9,894.62 left over from a $750,000 grant that improved Scott Road in 2010 in the Great Plains Industrial Park. The grant funded the concrete entryway to the park with 12-foot lanes and 8-foot turf shoulders. The money was transferred to a special highway fund for Great Plains for future road improvements.