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Editorial: Down wind
By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher
Several readers have asked why I haven’t been writing on a weekly basis lately.
Actually, I have been very busy with the publishing side of this job lately. I appreciate our advertisers, and I’ve been trying hard to get more advertisers to appreciate. Despite some of the smooth runs we’ve been having with the Rock River Trail, the economy is pretty rugged out there; and anyone in these times who is still in business is a tremendously successful business person, all of the challenges considered.
A recent challenge in our office towers as the open heart surgery of our Office Manager and Accountant (and General Ms. Do Everything) Marilyn Lamar. Yikes! This business takes its toll on everyone, but Marilyn shouldered more of the burden than most people could ever handle. She has had a weak valve in her heart for years; and recently, she was very fatigued on a regular basis. During a trip to the doctor, she was diagnosed with a leaking valve and slated for surgery. Last Monday, that was completed; she’s home; talking tires her; laughing hurts. She is feeling better: I feel guilty. Too much stress. She’s got to rest and recuperate, and she will. She’s one of the strongest, smartest and talented people I know. She really cares.
Stress abounds in all of our lives, and some stress can break your heart. Stress can kill. Mrs. Billie D. Mills’ heart was broken by the stress of her “sanctuary” or back yard getting an asphalt plant planted in it and the East State Street quarry by the Winnebago County ZBA, zoning committee, county board and William Charles/Rockford Blacktop. Politicians never say “No” to the pavers. After the county board vote, she said, “I can’t take this any more.” Her aorta tore that Friday before last, and she was dead the following Sunday. She really cared.
I was so mad after the funeral (and feeling totally useless to her husband, Tom), I went out and probably said a few things I shouldn’t have to some folks who didn’t even know where I’d been or why I was ornery. Sometimes it all gets to us, and we have a hard time escaping the effects of stress mentally, emotionally, and finally, physically.
I look at how politics has affected the physical nature of people, and physical nature itself, and I get mad. I really care.
Nature is getting physically screwed in Winnebago County. Without naming names, I’ve gone on a rant on several politicians lately on the phone or if they’re brave enough to visit my office. What the hell, I really let Winnebago County Forest Preserve District President Randy Olson have it on the phone (he’s hopelessly lost), and Winnebago County Development Director Jim Hughes have it in my office (he’s running for State Rep.).
The Winnebago County 2030 Land Resource Management Plan flaps as a farce, huge joke, a raging embarrassment. So much for budget management and resource priorities; with a drained, empty, Land Acquisition fund, Olson bought former Sheriff Don Gasparini’s expensive fishing hole, like Donny hasn’t pulled enough fish out of the taxpayers’ pond already. Speaking of fishy, the county planning department bends over backward for the big money and throws back the little guys and gals like Billie D. Mills and her neighbors. The Mulford proposed-asphalt-plant neighbors had deep pockets and sued William Charles after the pavers ran over the city, so they’ve switched the misery pond to our main business corridor on East State.
Up on the swampy edge of Rockton, the Cannell Subdivision threatens Nygren Wetland. Down by the mouth of the Kish, Kilbuck Creek is being ruined by the ancillaries to Pagel Pit. Gapingly foul, Pagel Pit wants to expand and will threaten the rest of the Kishwaukee. Plus, while Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen grins, concentrated industry is proposed for the Rock 39 development on I-39 right on top of the Kishwaukee watershed. Hearings for annexation plans of sensitive natural areas by Cherry Valley are Dec. 6, and hearings by New Milford are earilier on Nov. 30. Those annexations will bring that whole area water and/or sewer? Where the sewer, water lines and roads are built, development follows. Look at the shameful, raping clearcut up North Main that doesn’t even reach Rockton. Look for the strip mall junk and cookie cutter subdivisions to flop up there. Oh, there’ll be expensive sewer and water lines up there, too, at taxpayer expense. The northwest Rockford pollution around the former Amerock site is going to splash like the Superfund morass in southwest Rockford. The whole damn county is slowly, or not so slowly getting polluted with one kind of crap or another. Hey, jobs!
Oh. Then, there’s the big wind. Our county wind ordinance smells like the landfill. It blows the environmentalists silly because wind is supposedly “Green.” The agricultural area west of Meridian Road is going to be industrialized by these huge 40-stories-high commercial power plants. Several readers have asked me why I’m against big wind. The best summary list I have seen was composed by Hinshaw and Culbertson, Inc., Attorney Richard S. Porter for some of his anti-wind, “enlightened” clients — thanks to people like Larry Geddes, Oliver, Close, LLC Attorney John Rearden Jr., and the very brave and tenacious Patricia A. Mucarello for footing the bill for the “uneducated.” Here’s Porter’s list, which we will augment and expand on in upcoming issues (my comments are in italics):
Some ‘downsides’ of wind turbine facilities
• Decreased property values for nearby properties / decreased marketability
• Shadow and flicker effect — can be debilitating to those who suffer from migraines or motion sickness
• Physical danger from ice throws
• Physical danger from blade throws u Stress from incessant, low-frequency and audible noise (to both human and animal)
• Physical danger from lightning strikes (blade damage; fire)
• Interference with aviation, including crop dusting and emergency “flight for life” aircraft
• Physical/psychological effect of constant exposure to flashing lights and blade shadow strobe. Think the Abu Ghraib syndrome.
• Decommissioning issues: what happens when the operator goes bankrupt? (in the very least, deep foundations may be left permanently in the ground)
• Bird and bat kills. This is a very big issue affecting the “Web of Life.”
• Loss of TV and cell phone reception
• Permanent disruption of the tranquil, rural setting — aesthetic concerns
• Impairment of landowners’ future use of their property (e.g., precludes a private landing strip in the area, etc.)
• Potential physical danger from structural flaws in the towering turbines (e.g., turbine pole that snapped at PPM wind farm in Oregon, resulting in a fatality)
• Inability to extinguish turbine fires. Fire trucks can’t reach them. They must be allowed to “burn out.”
• Potential health risks associated with static electricity
• Insufficiency of Illinois winds to make a wind turbine system viable.
• Large footprint and a small power output
• High cost compared to other forms of alternative energy
• Great cost to extend the power grid to new, remote locations.
• Not a self-sustaining form of energy — dependent on substantial tax subsidies from the local, state and federal taxpayers.
• The Cervantes’ Monsters will ruin the viewshed for at least the term of their 20-year leases. Hey, most of the leases have “confidentiality clauses.” It’s another way to stifle dissatisfaction.
• Your countryside will never be the same.
Ask the following groups about each one of these points. They are leaders. I challenge local high school and college science teachers to examine the county issues and the wind points above and ask the groups below to talk about them. Ask them what they are doing about these issues. They really care:
1. Blackhawk Sierra Club
2. Green Communities Coalition
3. Northwest Illinois Audubon Society
4. Sinnissippi Audubon Society
5. Wild Ones
6. Four Rivers Environmental Coalition
7. Sand Bluff Bird Observatory
8. Northern Illinois Raptor Rehabilitation and Education Center
9. Hoo Haven
10 Operation Migration
11. Natural Land Institute
Speaking of groups, quite a few of us are sick of double dealing and pockets getting lined at our bailout expense. As I told U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin at a recent Occupy Rockford excursion to the federal courthouse dedication, many people, including myself, think democracy is dead. Both sides of the aisle locally, statewide and in our national Congress are owned by special interests. The parties no longer represent us.
The Tea Party’s leadership is like Libertarians on crack — the uncompromising jackboots or shock troops of the right wing of the Republican Party.
Not letting the Tea Party ride on their coattails, I love the Occupy Wall Street movement; they refuse to have leaders because most of them are useless anyway or have a “purchase price.” But it’s kinda tough to win an undefined agenda.
Like big wind, recognize that no matter how “proper” the politician or group, their lack of gumption to take real action on the tough questions (and yes, even offend someone at the price of your paycheck), they still smell bad downwind.
Speaking of paychecks. Advertise with The Rock River Times. TODAY. RIGHT NOW! IT’S REALLY TOUGH OUT THERE. DON’T LET “THEM” GET US. THEY’RE TRYING. Just like NPR, and your other great not-for-profits, our employees need your support, too. Buy local. Be ornery. Cuss out a politican today! Write more letters to the editor. Billie D. Mills LIVES, Frodo! Really care. Act. Happy Trails.
From the Nov. 9-15, 2011, issue