Kesha Eldridge, Chairperson of the Jansen Village Board, spoke at the recent Planning and Zoning Committee meeting regarding wind turbine regulations in Jefferson County. Her comments contradict a statement made weeks earlier by the village’s attorney, Gregory Kratz.
At that meeting on Thursday, August 18, in front of the committee and over 150 members of the public, Chairperson Eldridge claimed that when she presented a letter asking for three-mile setbacks for wind turbines in March of this year to Jefferson County Commissioners, she did so on behalf of the Village of Jansen.
But that contradicts what Kratz said on August 9, when he told the public at a village board meeting that “Kesha Eldridge, when she does things outside of here for wind farms, is she acting as chair of the Village of Jansen? The answer to that question is, no.”
Eldridge’s statement further increases the ambiguity surrounding her dual role as both chairperson of the board and concerned citizen.
At the Planning and Zoning meeting, Eldridge said, “I have a report prepared to show data collected and compiled after many weeks of research.”
Later in the meeting, Eldridge again addressed the committee to discuss the letter to County Commissioners in March. She then said, “When I was speaking earlier, I was speaking on my own behalf. When we presented the letter to the commissioners, that was on behalf of the Village of Jansen.”
Eldridge has refused to provide a copy of the letter or the report presented at the Planning and Zoning meeting, despite saying at the time, “I will email this PDF to anyone who wishes to review it.”
FJN has obtained a copy of the report from another source.
Eldridge has been heavily involved in the wind farm debate. For months, Eldridge has refused to say if she was acting on her own behalf as a private citizen or on behalf of the village or the board.
At the meeting of the Jansen Village Board on August 9, Eldridge was again asked if she represented the village in her wind farm campaign activities. Again, she refused to answer.
“This is a meeting of Jansen’s Village Board, not what Kesha’s doing on Tuesday,” said Eldridge, “What I do on my own time does not need to be discussed in this room.”
Kratz was present at that meeting and he said she was not acting on behalf of the village,
While Eldridge told the Planning and Zoning Committee the letter presented to Commissioners in March was on behalf of the village, FJN has reviewed the village board minutes from March and several months prior and found no indication that presentation of this letter was ever voted on by the board.
On July 27 of this year, Eldridge sent an email to FJN, “The Village of Jansen has not passed any measurers taking any stance on commercial wind energy development.”
Among Eldridge’s activities relating to the wind farm campaign is the creation of REIN (Renewable Energy Information Network) Nebraska. Articles of Incorporation were filed in June of this year, requesting 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). REIN Nebraska’s website describes the organization as a “non-profit.”
According to the IRS, “An exempt organization must make available for public inspection its exemption application.” FJN has requested a copy of the application more than once. Thus far, Eldridge and REIN have refused to provide it.
FJN has reached out to both Eldridge and Kratz for a statement. As of press time, no response was received.
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