Since the COVID 19 pandemic shutdowns began six months ago there has been very little talk at Ford County Board meetings about amending the wind farm ordinance. And practically no members of the public have appeared before the board.
That changed last week when Don Meyer, of Sibley, spoke to the board about his concerns about the wind farm near Sibley that Apex plans to build. Six others attended as well. Meyer said he has tried unsuccessfully to obtain clarification from the company where the turbines have been sited.
He did receive an incomplete site plan from County Engineer Greg Perkinson.
”We’re trying to figure out what the hell this all means,” said Meyer.
Though 80 acres he owns is not in the site plan, Meyer is concerned for the village itself.
“We want the security that they won’t be in our back yard and that the residents of Sibley won’t have to look at them for the rest of time.”
Meyer said he spoke to the mayor of Chenoa and that town is supposed to receive some compensation from the company for the presence of near-by towers. Meyer has also looked at the agreement between the town of Franklin and Apex.
Meyer said he thought Apex would have a firmer plan at this point in time.
“We want to be forewarned before they get a construction permit,” he said.
Board member Tim Nuss promised Meyer just that, and transparency.
“Anything we know, you’ll know,” said Nuss.
The county placed a moratorium on the construction of new wind farms three years ago and since then has been working on amending its ordinance. However, Apex is permitted to construct its farm of 42 turbines because it purchased the project 11 years ago from the previous company which held the permit.
Representatives of Apex have attended the meetings discussing the amendments. They have been interested in increasing the size of their project and the size of the turbines to be installed.
Also the board grudgingly approved amending the holiday schedule for courthouse employees for the 2019-20 fiscal year to include the addition of Nov. 3, Election Day, as a paid holiday.
Board members grumbled that the holiday will cost the county money to pay holiday pay for the clerk’s office employees who must run the election and all personnel at the jail, and deputies, who must work anyway.
The Illinois Municipal League has filed a suit in Sangamon County on behalf of several towns against the Illinois State Elections board seeking a judicial interpretation as to whether the new holiday applies to municipalities.
Also the board accepted the low bid of $188,475 from Toby’s Construction, Herscher, to install a box culvert in Pella Township.
And after a lengthy discussion, the board voted that Microsoft Office 365 be installed in all offices and for all employees enabling all email to be moved from the local server and into the Cloud. Department heads however must pay for that out of their budgets even though no one could say what the cost would be.
Nuss suggested that a meeting be held in a large place like Roberts Gym so that employees could attend and representatives of several companies could present their ideas and costs for updating more of the county’s software. The IT committee will meet Sept. 23 at 5:30 p.m. in the sheriff’s board room where MCS Office Technologies, Gibson City, will discuss Microsoft Office Suite 365.
Also the board:
- Approved a mutual-aid agreement with the Hoopeston Emergency Management Agency.
- Approved the reappointment of Johnathan Powers and Joel Hastings to the Ford County Board of Review. Their new terms expire June 1, 2022.
- Approved setting the salary of the public defender at $124,743, retroactive to July 1. Sixty seven percent of the salary will be paid by the state if that is 90 percent of what the state’s attorney receives. And it is.
- Approved the appointments of 12 drainage district commissioners: Douglas Niewold of rural Loda, Jason Stuckey of rural Piper City, Jeff Riebe of rural Thawville, Ronald Bork of rural Piper City, L. Bryon Cole of rural Roberts, Steve Meenen of rural Melvin, Dean Swan of rural Paxton, Ronald Arends of rural Melvin, Randy Kinzinger of rural Buckley, Mark Weber of rural Chatsworth and Roger M. Read of rural Piper City.
Also the board discussed a recommendation from the board’s personnel committee that all elected officials and department heads use the same time-keeping template for all non-salaried employee time-keeping. That committee will meet Sept. 23 at 3 p.m. in the sheriff’s board room.