Morgan County Commissioners Approve Bids & Reports, Hear More on Wind Ordinance

By Benjamin Cox on July 8, 2019 at 6:20pm

Morgan County Commissioners approved several reports and weatherization bids. They also continued to hear from citizens and community leaders about the proposed wind ordinance that will be coming to a vote soon.Chairman of the Commissioners Bradley Zeller explains why the vote hasn’t been taken yet. “We don’t have a tentative date right now to vote on it. I think we are really close to getting the document complete. We hired legal counsel from Chicago, and just by chance that they were taking an 11-day vacation in the midst of this. We have not had communication with them to get that finalized document. We’re hoping to get it – the sooner the better.”

In other business, Jenny Geirnaeirt, Morgan County Treasurer, reported that general funds for the county were lower in March and April, but that was to be expected as the county usually waits to receive the property tax distribution by the end of June. Commissioner Zeller said that bills and payroll for the month were not out of the ordinary. The county awarded bids that Dusty Douglas, county planner, said were fairly competitive. Two companies in Jacksonville were awarded architectural bids: Trone Appliances and RP Lumber. All of the rest came from outside the county.

During the public comment session of the meeting, the commissioners heard from Vice President of the Franklin School District Willie Smith. Smith gave Franklin’s support behind the proposed wind farms in the southern half of the county. “In the words of our interim superintendent, Dr. Kurt Simonson, ‘This project would be a game changer for our school district.’ When board members asked what he meant by that, he was not only able to speak from the perspective of someone with a doctoral degree in education administration but from a perspective of experience. He was superintendent of the Tri-Valley School District in McLean County, Illinois when the school district there received benefits from a wind energy project. He’s made it very clear how the improvements and updates to the educational system in the Tri-Valley district was in direct correlation with the tax money brought in by the wind project. I do believe there is one thing everyone in this room can agree upon. The children of our communities is our future and the education they receive is a benefit to us all.”

After Smith concluded his remarks, Alexander resident Joana Ramsey asked the commissioners about a response to her petition from residents in the unincorporated township that was presented to them last month. Chairman Zeller had this to say: “We have not gotten the ordinance revised. The difficulty with Alexander is that it is an unincorporated village so it has no structural boundaries to speak of – where it will stop or where it would start. You know, I happen to live in Alexander but it is defined by a zip code not defined by municipal boundaries. The commissioners have talked about it internally. It’s a very unique situation how the residents of Alexander can have some kind of protection or boundary where there wouldn’t be any wind turbines.There hasn’t been anything determined conclusively with that yet.”

Zeller recommended Ramsey contact the Alexander fire chief, the business association, and Apex Wind Energy to have a meeting to collectively make a decision for the residents of the unincorporated township. Zeller believes that the meeting could result in a decision being made on an agreement between the wind farm proposal and the residents of that area.