NORTH ROBINSON–On Monday evening, the Colonel Crawford board of education held their monthly meeting in the media center.
To open the meeting, the Colonel Crawford FFA chapter conducted the opening ceremony.
Once that was over, what now seems to be commonplace at meetings countywide, members of the public addressed the board over their growing concerns about the potential Honey Creek industrial wind turbine project from Apex in Crawford County.
Sandy Shields, a former educator and current resident in the district, was the first to address the board on the matter.
“While the planning phase of this project began years ago, and due to a lack of transparency, it is just coming to light for most of the citizens of Crawford County,” Shields began. “The scale of the proposed turbines for Honey Creek would be the largest onshore turbines constructed in the United States. As well, the population density of our county is much larger than the locations of other wind farms in the U.S. We are a rural farm community. Yet, there are a large number of residential homes dotting our rural landscape. This makes it so that if this project were to go through, our citizens in the footprint of the project would be living in close proximity to a number of industrial-scale turbines. It would be impossible to isolate in the way one would hope for.”
Shields stated that while Apex has not yet submitted a permit request to the Ohio Power Siting Board, so not all details are completely known, Apex representatives have said that their intent is to place at least seventy-five turbines that are six hundred and fifty feet tall from the ground to the top of a blade, for the first phase of their project. Apex has stated its intent to expand this project further than northern Crawford County in the future, should this project go through.
At six hundred and fifty feet tall, these turbines would stand twenty feet taller than the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, the tallest national monument in the United States.
“I ask you to imagine more than seventy-five of these massive structures dotting our beautiful rural landscape in northern Crawford County,” Shields said.
Other issues that Shields addressed were noise, shadow flicker (turbines create a moving/flickering shadow when the sun shines through the rotating blades), red flashing lights (due to their height and safety concerns, they have blinking lights to mark their location), and ice throw (when the ice sheds from wind turbine blades, the motion can propel the shards at a great distance).
In her address to the board, Shields also addressed “wind turbine syndrome,” which includes symptoms such as sleep disturbances, headache, tinnitus (ringing/buzzing noise in one or both ears that may be constant or come and go), vertigo (sudden internal or external spinning sensation), and dizziness, among others. She stated that in testimonials for those who live near wind farms, individuals have expressed high levels of stress and depression, and some stated that their quality of life was so diminished that they abandoned their homes.
The next topic Shields addressed was how these could impact children on the autism spectrum and those with sensory processing disorders.
“For many years, I taught in an inclusionary classroom, I taught these children, and for them, the constant noise and vibration is tragic. I understand that many of them are so hypersensitive to noise that it actually causes them pain and can lead to panic attacks. I have great empathy for them and wonder, ‘Who will look out for them? Who will protect them?’”
Shields brought up how in Seneca County, they just put a stop to Apex and the wind farm they had proposed thereafter, many county entities and organizations, including the county commissioners, worked together to make it known that wind turbines were not welcomed in their county. She brought up how the Seneca East board of education, in their submitted resolution to the Ohio Power Siting Board, stated that “This board intends to intervene in the proceedings on the grounds that it has extensive interest in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the district’s students and staff, and an interest in the project’s potential impact on property development and valuation within the district which directly affects a primary source of the district’s funding.”
The Ohio Power Siting Board denied Apex’s application for the Republic Wind Project in Seneca County, stating “Substantial public opposition, plus geological concerns” as the main factors in their rejection.
“Our County Commissioners could act now by exercising the right given to them with Senate Bill 52. They have the authority to declare parts or all of Crawford County as restricted. If they choose not to act, that is considered approval of industrial wind farms in our rural yet residential county. If they do act, it doesn’t mean the project is permanently halted. Those in opposition to the declaration of restricted areas have the ability to bring this to a vote, where all voting citizens would have the right to exercise their voice in the voting booth. Isn’t that what our great country was built on?” Shields said.
The next to address the board on the matter was Casie Grau, who lives in the district and has two children who attend Colonel Crawford, one who has challenges related to sensory processing.
“I am here tonight to share my family’s concerns about industrial wind turbines in hopes of working towards a solution. My family and I are concerned about their impact on the look and feel of the county, the potential decrease in property values, environmental disruption, our quality of life, and the negative impacts on our children’s wellbeing,” Grau said.
Grau’s daughter, who has challenges related to sensory processing, asked her mother, “What’s going to happen to me?” to which Grau had to reply, “I don’t know.”
Grau stated that her daughter, much like children who have been diagnosed with sensory processing disorders, such as autism, is negatively impacted by certain noises, and she also suffers from tinnitus. The family is concerned that the wind turbines may exacerbate her struggles.
“Let’s acknowledge that none of us truly knows or understands the impact of industrial wind turbines until we have lived with them. However, we are hearing accounts from those who have lived with them and have urged us not to repeat their mistakes,” Grau said.
In closing her address to the board, Grau left the board with these questions: Are we willing to take the chance to find out what these people found out, only after living with the turbines; Do industrial wind turbines align with our vision for this community; Do industrial wind turbines align with community initiatives, such as attracting young people to come back after they have left for college; Do industrial wind turbines align with the experiences that we want our children to have here; and Where does the wellbeing of our children fall on the priority list as we consider allowing industrial wind turbines to exist here?
Sherry Stuckman, the last to address the board, stated her concern over how the turbines would impact her daughter, who was diagnosed with autism, stating that she fears how the shadow flicker and the noise would impact her because she is sensitive to things like that.
Board members were handed informational brochures the anti-wind group has created, detailing safety concerns, property rights concerns, ways to get involved, and the web address for the page, the YouTube channel, and the Crawford Anti-Wind Facebook page.
After the public participation section, the board moved on to the business portion of the agenda.
Superintendent Todd Martin announced that per CDC guidelines, students will no longer be required to wear masks on the bus.
Open enrollment for the district begins March 1 and ends on March 31. Martin said that roughly twenty-eight percent of the school’s students are open enrolled. To get an open enrollment form, go to the Colonel Crawford Local Schools website. There is a link to the document at the top of the page titled “2022-2023 Open Enrollment Form”.
As discussed at the last board meeting, the school is going forward with the air handling units and boiler project for the north building. The winning bid was from MG Energy, Inc. for $480,239. The project will be paid for with ESSER III money. The district originally allocated approximately $566,000 for the project.
A resolution selecting Callahan Door & Window as the vendor for the replacement doors and windows in the pool area was approved at $30,806 and will be paid for with ESSER II funds. The new windows and doors around the pool will be ventilation windows, and they will be tinted to help with the sun during the morning swim meets.
The next board meeting is on March 28 at 7 p.m.
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