- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Two commissioners silent on citizen request to stop talking with RWE

OSWEGO – Voters of the 2nd District in Labette County on Tuesday requested the county commission end all communication with RWE Renewables, the German utility company looking to develop a wind farm in the county, until after the recall election, but commissioners did not move forward with the request.

Chairman Lonie Addis entertained a motion to suspend all communication with the company following rural Parsons resident Dana Eggers’ presentation to commissioners during public comment, but the motion died for lack of a second from the other commissioners.

“Based on the fact that the democratic process is taking place and enough signatures were acquired, we, the constituents of Labette County and District 2, ask the commission to cease all activities and discussion with RWE, attorneys, etc., until the recall process has ran its course and the people of the county get to decide and their voices heard,” Eggers said in a prepared statement to the commission.

Addis said he strongly agreed with ending talks with RWE Renewables.

Eggers read the statement to commissioners on behalf of the recall committee and its sponsors. About nine people attended Tuesday’s meeting.

“This is not a matter of what you are allowed to do, but a matter of being respectful, allowing democracy to succeed and being aware that the citizens of Labette County deserve the best from their representatives, which a recall has brought into question,” Eggers said.

The committee completed the signature collection for a recall petition this summer in Commissioner Brian Kinzie’s 2nd District. The recall election is planned for Dec. 7. County Clerk Gena Landis verified 1,333 signatures on the petition, enough for a recall question to appear on a ballot in a special election. Kinzie has filed for judicial review of the petition and the recall process.

County Counselor Brian Johnson said the attorney for RWE Renewables is supposed to be sending him information. He said the county has not started negotiations with the company yet.

“They’re supposed to be sending me copies of all the stuff that they’re proposing, but I haven’t received anything,” Johnson said.

Addis said what the county will do in this situation depends on the recall election results.

“Let’s face it,” he said.

RWE wants to develop a wind farm in western Labette County and has leased land for the development. The company is collecting weather data now.

In other matters Tuesday, commissioners:

— Heard an update from Laura Moore, the city’s community development director, about the county’s Community Development Block Grant funds. The county received $132,000, Moore said. The commission held a public hearing on the topic, but no one from the public spoke. Moore added the county will have to return $92,494.43 in unused funds. She said she didn’t like returning funds, but it had to happen because of stipulations.

“We just had a year to spend the funds,” she said. “It was one of the very first projects that was out. … It was for small businesses. And, also, the caveat was 51% of the employees had to be low to moderate (income). So some businesses didn’t qualify because of that.”

With the grant, the county was able to help 14 businesses, Moore said. The county also retained 34 jobs, with 27.5 of those employing individuals in the low- to moderate-income bracket. (Moore said 0.5 indicates a part-time job.)

The commission approved the close-out of the grant.

— Rescinded the burn ban for Labette County. Officials initiated a burn ban 15 days ago because of dry conditions.

— Approved holding a special county meeting at 9 a.m. Friday to complete employee evaluations.

— Held four executive sessions. The first was for attorney-client discussion for 15 minutes. Commissioners did not take any action. The second executive session was on an employee evaluation for 10 minutes. The commission exited the session and went back in for 10 minutes. Commissioners did not take any action after the session. The final executive session was for attorney-client discussion for five minutes; the commission did not take any action following the executive session.