Commissioners address wind farm rumor
Credit: Commissioners Address Wind Farm Rumor | By Gordon Hopkins | The Fairbury Journal-News | September 13, 2022 | fairburyjournalnews.com ~~
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Rumors and misinformation continue to plague the ongoing debate over wind farm regulations in Jefferson County. One such rumor was addressed by County Commissioner Gale Pohlmann, who categorically denied any involvement in the closing of his own church for the benefit of a proposed wind farm.
Commissioners discussed this latest rumor at their regular meeting on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. At that meeting, commissioner Michael Dux said, “I guess I’m disappointed when there’s rumors going out throughout the community about the possibility of closing churches or other entities because of the windmill farms and that really disappoints me. I’m very disappointed about these types of rumors.”
Pohlmann confirmed that he was the subject of the rumor, “I want to say that too, because my name was put up as trying to close our church because I didn’t want the setbacks to be involved there.”
Pohlmann acknowledged that some churches are facing closure but emphasized it has nothing to with setbacks or wind farms, “Our particular church has a pastor that is going to retire here. We’ve got some big decisions to make, whether we’re going to close because we cannot support a pastor on our own. We just don’t have members anymore in rural areas.”
There is a moratorium on new wind permit permits as the Planning and Zoning Committee review the regulations currently in place and make recommendations to commissioners for new regulations. Among the regulations under consideration are for setbacks. A number of people have indicated their preference for greater setbacks from such locations as churches, schools and parks.
Pohlmann also indicated that he believed the source of the rumor was a member of the Jefferson County Wind Watchers, a Facebook group that is pushing for greater setbacks. He did not give a name but said, “Well, it came from a very reliable source. And as far as I’m concerned that does not do your organization any credibility.”
Dux concurred, “Well, any type of a negative rumor about whether it’s windmills or anything else really in my opinion hurts because it shows discredibility.”
Also in attendance at the meeting was Danielle Schwab, a vocal opponent of wind farms who regularly posts on the JCWW’s Facebook page.
“Well, it was not my organization involved because I have not heard any of that,” said Schwab. “Well, I am a member of several organizations, so I may not be as involved with one as the other.”
When asked if she was still a member of JCWW, Schwab answered, “Yes and no.”
JCWW has engaged an attorney, Scott Gropp of Gropp Law and Mediation, LLC, a law firm based out of Wilber. Gropp also serves as Public Defender for Jefferson County. FJN reached out to Gropp for comment. Gropp responded, “I have no knowledge of any such statements from my client, JCWW, or any members of said group.”
Pohlmann noted he heard the rumor via word of mouth and not online. As of press time, nothing about churches has been posted on JCWW’s Facebook page. However, commissioners also expressed concern about denigrating comments on JCWW’s Facebook page. Pohlmann said, “Scrolling through the Wind Watchers Facebook page, there has some comments in regards to some type of ridiculing those people that are for (wind farms).”
“Well, I hated to bring that up,” said Dux. “Maybe it bothers me more as I get older. Because rumors are rumors and not facts.”
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