The Washington County Commissioners met Tuesday, April 6. Pastor James Glisan of the First Presbyterian Church of Akron opened the meeting with a prayer, followed by the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Several people attended the meeting to voice their opinions about the wind towers that they are wanting to bring to the county.
Sally Strand spoke first and said she does not want the wind towers brought into the county. “I appreciate the fact that you are listening to us today. We do not know where the towers are coming in, which is strange. I think they are interested in land where the owners do not live in the county. Why are they taking crop land? Now they want bigger towers with less cutback.”
Wyatt Palser also spoke against the towers. “I do not think it is a viable solution or option for our county. If the towers have to come out, the farmers have to pay for that and that costs an exorbitant amount of money. The towers scar our land and can decrease our property value by 30 percent.”
Eli Palser added, “The number of people here shows how important this matter is to us. Why is there a gag order? Most companies want their product to be talked about with word of mouth. Why don’t they?”
Larry Hill said they are not going to really help our county economically, but will help Logan County.
Lacie Harman opposed the towers. “We do not want the towers here. We take pride in our land and our commissioners have worked to protect our way of life. Please step up this time and stand up for the people you represent.”
Kim Harman agreed. “We can’t raise cattle around wind towers. The cattle do not do well raised close to wind towers.”
Vicki Armstrong discussed a ballot initiative, sponsored by animal rights activists. “These animal rights activists want to dictate to farmers and ranchers at what age they can slaughter their animals. The want to dictate to veterinarians how to properly treat animals. Hope you can see why the Washington County commissioners should stay out of the wind tower/landowner dispute, as we in Washington County want PETA (animal rights activists) to stay out of our business.”
Next to speak was Kendra Anderson. “I care about the land and our kid’s education. I ask you to read the regulations from the Planning and Zoning committee. Please listen to your citizens who do not want the wind towers to come into our county.”
Aaron Metzler then said, “I am a landowner and think wind towers are a terrible thing to be brought in. They bother livestock. If we can wait, they are designing towers that are one-third the size of towers now. Please follow the Planning and Zoning committee. They don’t care about the people in our county. In 15 years, it could cost close to a half a million dollars to take them down. This is a burden our county does not need.”
Riley Strand echoed Metzler. “Our county does not need these towers. A 400-foot tower, with all the machinery needed to run them, they are not green. We need to keep the towers out. They are not environmentally friendly. Once they come in, can we shut it down if we want?”
Jenna Zahller commented, “New wording on regulations, it is rumored, would allow towers to be taller and cutback distances to be shorter. This would allow monstrous towers to be built. There is zero transparency in the wind industry.” She also gave some information on how much a company can make.
Carol Slusser spoke on behalf of the company. “There was no gag order. We have no issue with the company. I can speak directly to the company and they have resolved any problem there is. I think there is a lot of false information out there. Contact some of the people who have towers and see how they feel. As a landowner, you can say no. The company has the knowledge and at some point, we have to trust the company. Have the facts.”
Trent Twiss asked the commissioners to reach out to other counties. “I was informed about this meeting yesterday and I said it was not on the agenda. A meeting has to be put in the paper, put on the agenda, so that citizens know.”
Anthony Schaffert said, “Wind towers need another source of energy to operate.”
Commissioner Lea Ann Laybourn answered questions about the process it will take when the subject is brought up again. There will be a notice in the paper and it will be a public hearing.
The commissioners then returned to the regular business meeting. Emergency Manager Bryant McCall told the board there are 16 active COVID-19 cases and one new. The positivity rate is 0.6 percent. There was a vaccine clinic held Wednesday, April 7 for the county. Commissioner Tony Wells said a meeting was scheduled for Friday, April 9 with Health Department to discuss changeovers regarding mask mandates and other matters. Brenda Rhea, Nursing Home Administrator, said visitors can now come in. They are allowing only two visitors at a time and masks must be worn.
Lorie Herrera, Fiber Optic Account Executive, and Lori Searles, Marketing Director, both with Viaero, then spoke to the commissioners about putting fiber optics in at the fairgrounds. There is an agreement to start. Searles said, “Thank you for allowing us to bring fiber into the fairgrounds and for signing an agreement.”
They spoke to Matt Green, Maintenance Director about placing the fiber and arranged a meeting for Wednesday to meet at the fairgrounds and go over the basic requirements and get questions answered. They would like to bring some information into some events and into the Event Center. The commissioners agreed to this also. They would like the work to be done by June 1, 2021.
County Administrator Misty Peterson discussed the chip sealing by A-1 Chip Seal from the baseline to County Road 22. This was budgeted already and the amount is $47,666.55 and this was approved. The work is to be done by September 30, 2021. Peterson also said the audit is to be started May 17.
The meeting was then adjourned.
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