February 25, 2020 Tuesday 9:00 am
The Bourbon County Commission met in open session with Nick and Lynne present, Jeff was on the telephone, the County Counselor and the County Clerk present.
Also present for a portion of the meeting were Apex representatives Juliana Planelli, Chris Rutherford and Alan Anderson as well as Ken Anderson, Nancy Van Etten, Debra Apfel, Clint Walker and Sparky Schroeder.
Lynne made a motion to go into a 10 minute executive session for personnel matters of individual non-elected personnel, Nick seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners, Jim Harris, Jerad Heckman and Justin Meeks). No action was taken.
Jeff made a motion to approve the biennial bridge inspection agreement for $14,420, (this is for 116 bridges and includes the 2 fracture critical bridges, paid out of the bridge & culvert fund), Nick seconded and all approved. Lynne and Jeff signed the agreement. Jeff asked if the rift raff placed on the metal bridge on 250th between Birch & Cavalry had helped the sufficiency rating. Lynne made a motion to allow Jim and Jeff to view the bridge together, Nick seconded and all approved. Sparky Schroeder asked if an area near Jayhawk and Margrave going north was City or County property; Jim said this is City property.
Jim said they are hauling rock around the County; he said they are making rock at the Thomas quarry, he said they will be out of rock at the Beth quarry within a few weeks. Jeff asked if they should consider adding an additional rock crushing shift to build the rock inventory, Jim said in order to do this, they would have to make sure they had adequate lighting. Jim suggested if this was done, they keep the employees that are already working there and pay them overtime. The Commissioners will discuss this again next week.
Lynne made a motion to take hay bids in 2020 on the land at the old landfill as well as Elm Creek; Jeff seconded and all approved. Kendell will place a notice in the Fort Scott Tribune.
Lynne made a motion to allow him and Jim Harris to view a crossing at Kansas and Highway 3, Nick seconded and all approved.
Lynne made a motion to go into a 30 minute executive session for consultation with an attorney for the body or agency which would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship, Nick seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners and Justin Meeks). No action was taken.
Lynne made a motion to go into a 5 minute executive session for consultation with an attorney for the body or agency which would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship, Nick seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners and Justin Meeks). After the session, Jeff made a motion to hire Brad Nielsen with Franke, Schultz & Mullen PC and allow Lynne to call them; to satisfy the request for a 2nd opinion regarding the wind generation project and address issues with a letter received regarding possible litigation, the County Counselor will no longer report to the Commissioners on this matter, Nick seconded and all approved. Lynne made a motion to spend up to $5,000 for the retainer in this matter, Nick seconded and all approved.
Justin Meeks asked that the Commissioners pay dues for $200 to KAC out of his budget.
Lynne made a motion to pay Pat Bishop the $2,000 owed to him for work he did with the tax sale, Nick seconded and all approved.
Justin Meeks informed the Commissioners that he reviewed and will approve the title 6 documents that Will Wallis asked him to review.
Lynne made a motion to go into a 30 minute executive session for confidential data relating to financial affairs or trade secrets of corporations, partnerships, trusts and individual proprietorships, Nick seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners, Justin Meeks, Juliana Planelli and Alan Anderson). After the session, Lynne said last week the Commissioners asked him to put together a format for Commission meetings (going forward) due to possible litigation and remarks that have been made during Commission meetings. Justin Meeks provided Lynne input on requirements and guidance on how to run the meetings. Lynne read the following: Bourbon County KS. Commission Patron Participation and Public Forums
In order to maintain orderly and efficient County Commission meetings it has become necessary to enact the following policy addressing patron participation in commissions meetings and forums.
Personal, rude, or slanderous remarks are prohibited.
Patrons wishing to speak publicly during a commission meeting must make such request through the Bourbon County Clerk’s office.
Comments will be limited to five minutes per patron per meeting.
One hour of accumulated time will be set aside for public comments.
Fifteen minutes per subject or associated subject will be allowed
Each patron will be given 5 minutes to address the commission.
A copy of any material to be shared or used to address the commission will need to be provided to the Bourbon County Clerk the day prior to the scheduled commission meeting.
This policy will require commission approval each subsequent calendar year. Nick made a motion to adopt the changes, Jeff seconded and all approved. The Commissioners will adopt a Resolution on 3/3/2020 with the above meeting format guidelines. The Commissioners decided that today’s scheduled appointments will have a 5 minute rule.
Lynne said the Commissioners received a KORA request asking for all public records containing communications between the Bourbon County Commissioners, County Counselor or Economic Development Coordinator and Apex Clean Energy and/or Jayhawk Wind. The requestor asked for the records back to 2016. Justin said he would review this, check with the IT department on this request and the Commissioners plan to check their emails.
At 11:08, Lynne made a motion to suspend the meeting for lunch and reconvene at 1:30, Jeff seconded and all approved.
Present for the afternoon meeting were Tammy Helm with the Fort Scott Tribune, the following signed in but there were others here as well… Tim Adams, Greg Malone, Janice Baker, Vickie Turestas RN BSN, Deb Apfel, Nancy Van Etten, Ken Anderson, Deb Lust, Sherral Fry, Leon Fry, Helen Humphreys, Ann & Joe Ludlum, Anne Dare, Kim Simons, Sherrie Daniels, Barbara Schmidt, Else Moss, Julianna Planelli, Jarett Dauben, Chris Knapp, Jeff Spangler, Mary Pemberton, Rachel Walker, Clint Walker, Mike Wunderly, Leo Hartman, Time Emerson, Jan Seested and Michael Hoyt.
Jody Hoener met with the Commissioners to discuss healthcare. She said last week Mercy gave the County a draft donation agreement of the building and $1 million dollars. She said in September/October they were approached by Bill Brittain and SEK Mental Health about leasing into a co-op for healthcare, they did a walk through and felt it was do-able. She said they then had to see if there was an interest to lease the 122,000 square feet of space. They held another meeting with multiple people as well as Via Christi and CHC; there was interest in 50% of the leasable space. She said another meeting was then held putting pen to paper regarding the operational costs and they felt it was possibly do-able. CHC then announced they were going to take over the space, but they didn’t. She said a medical mall is part of building a healthy community. She said there are two anchor tenants, Via Christi and CHC. Via Christi will run the emergency department and CHC will be a primary care provider, both will have the opportunity to expand their services. Jody said nothing has been defined with mental health care yet, she said she has meetings scheduled with KDHE and the VA. Someone asked if there was any possibility of another hospital buying the facility; Jody said that healthcare here will never be the same as it was, she said it will be a new model of healthcare, she said they are not looking to get someone to buy the facility. She said leasing out space will help cover operational costs of the building. The $1 million donation will be used towards the $380,000 roof, IT costs, legal costs and miscellaneous expenses. The tenants will cover any build out (remodeling) costs. Via Christi will be spending $3 million for build out costs. Jody said she is actively recruiting tenants to get leases in place. She said they are only legally able to do 10 year leases. Joe Ludlum asked if the County had accepted the donation yet; Jody said no. He discussed the decommissioning agreement for the wind farms; he asked what would be the cost of decommissioning the hospital. Mr. Ludlum said that Mercy operated the hospital for a long time and they failed. Jody said that Mercy operated as a sole entity and covered all the costs associated with running the facility; she said the County would operate a different model by leasing space for entity needs, she said it would create a synergy between the people leasing space. Jody said there were a lot of risks taking on the healthcare concept; she felt it was worth the risk verses loosing population and valuation. She said this is a new model that hasn’t been done in a rural community before. Jody said there will be a board formed for the hospital and they will be responsible for many things as well as coordinating the leased space. She said the goal is to have it the building occupied at 73% capacity by 2023. Jody said that Justin Meeks was reviewing the draft donation agreement and said they do not have a final date to take over the facility. Vickie Turestas RN BSN said she was a nurse in the mental health field; she felt there was a need here for mental health care/crisis center. Jody said she is actively exploring grants that are available.
Rachel Martin met with the Commissioners regarding the proposed wind farm; she thanked the Commissioners for hearing her out. She lives only a few miles from the proposed wind farm. She said we are all neighbors no matter which side they are on. She said the proposed wind power facility had her concerned, she said they look innocent enough, but said she wasn’t sure how close she wanted to live next to 1 or 150. Lynne said the Commissioners were limited on any input they can provide because of a high probability of litigation. She asked the Commissioners what their responsibilities were to the non-participating land holders that are near or in the middle of the proposed build. Lynne said they couldn’t answer her question. She asked if they were willing to negotiate with Jayhawk Wind on the setbacks. Lynne said they are negotiating the setback requirements. She discussed eminent domain; she said wind companies are privately held companies and can’t exercise eminent domain, however, public utilities could. She said in Missouri, companies contracted with municipalities and they became a public utility, (and could exercise eminent domain). She said in researching turbines she found 50/50 for and against them; some people that live near them have no issues and some have headaches, shadow flicker and can hear them, and some don’t hear them at all. She visited with a wind turbine technician and said it seemed that the quality of parts used and brand of nacelle influences the quality of life of the people that live around the turbines. She discussed articles about the ground current around the turbines killing animals, causing reproductive harm and lowering milk production in dairy cows; she said SWBBCO depends on animal agriculture. She said a technician contacted her on this issue and said the stray ground current has to do with the dc to ac conversion, the quality of the converter and how the turbine is grounded; she said if negotiating with APEX this is an issue to protect the BBCO residents from. She said the technician was for wind energy when it was used responsibly; his opinion was that companies that are only in it for the money have given the wind industry a bad name. She said she grew up in KC, she discussed the stars, open spaces and birds near her home now on Hackberry Road in Bourbon County; she asked why anyone would be willing to give up what we have here. She read a letter titled Living Under Construction, an open letter to the work force of wind energy, www.nemowindinfo.wixsite.com. She said to APEX “you are dividing this community. You only see us a numbers. You want to fill our land with concrete and make it just like the city.” She said to the Commissioners; “I’ve heard talk of injecting value into the community and creating long term, sustainable value but the real value in Bourbon County is in the people. It’s in our hearts, our history and our land. I left the city lights and noise behind me 20 years ago. Why would you want to bring that to Bourbon County? Don’t you know what you have here? People crave what we have to offer! Market that! If each County around us is polluted with turbines but, we have the lakes and the birds and the wildlife areas and the stars…market that! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by slowing down. This is an irreversible decision. You don’t know what you are about to lose. But I do.”
Deb (Ericson) Lust met with the Commissioners regarding the proposed wind farm; she said she grew up in Hiatville, a farmers’ (both ground and livestock) daughter. She said she retired after 30 years in the government, (both in the U.S. Army and as a civil servant); she said in her career she saw the world; she spent time in Africa and South Korea, she said you have no clue how others live. She said we have green grass and trees here. She now works as a crop insurance adjuster and has done adjusting work under windmills; she said she didn’t get electrocuted, she never heard more than a buzz. She said she expected the rule of the law to work. She said this Country matters to me. She chose to sign a lease with the wind farm. She built a home with geothermal, she said she is not leaving the area. She said as a child they were taught that fossil fuels and resources have an end date and as a result we have to look forward. Her grandparents lived in Savonburg at a time when there was no indoor plumbing, electricity, TV’s or phones. When rural water was installed there was the same fight of people not wanting the lines to go across their land; however, people today are happy with the water, electricity, phones, and internet. She said that is technology and going forward, things evolve. She said renewable energy is progress and going forward, she said we have to be forward thinking. She said the power plants in LaCygne and Burlington have expiration dates and the reality is we need to look at alternatives (wind and solar). She discussed the landscape near her home; she said she lives 2 ½ miles from a cell tower, but doesn’t mind because without it she would not have cell service. She discussed the water towers, TV towers and microwave towers; she said this is part of the infrastructure that keeps evolving necessarily for the quality of life we live. She discussed the prairie grass; she said this is a CRP area (seed to grass); she said that land is contracted with Uncle Sam. She said the profit margin for farmers is tight due to high commodity prices. She is on the Bourbon County Soil Conservation Board as well as the Marmaton Watershed Board; she said she cares about our area. She said Hiattville has the best road grader in the County. She said some of the people that had signed leases might have done so for the additional income, she said the wind turbines might help someone hang onto their property.
Anne Dare met with the Commissioners regarding the wind farms. She asked if a moratorium had been discussed; Lynne said they couldn’t discuss this. She discussed the mission of the Conservation District. She said the 5 questions to ask when signing a lease were… how will it affect the farming, how long will the lease tie up the land, what are the obligations under the lease, how will the lease holder be compensated and what happens when the project ends.
Joe Ludlum, a former County Commissioner, met with the Commissioners regarding the wind farms. He said he is a landowner of 240 acres; he voluntarily leased land to the wind farm project under the legal guidance of legal counsel that represents farm bureau. He said the County Commissioners need the following; a signed road use agreement; he said the wind farm company will come in and build up and maintain the roads during construction, he said the roads will be in better shape when finished than they are now. They need a PILOT agreement; a voluntary payment, Allen County’s PILOT payment is $250,000, he said if the project is slowed enough, the company could leave and then the PILOT amount would be $0. They also need a decommissioning agreement; he said we needed to be uniform in the decommissioning agreement. He said the project in Allen County went smooth, he went to Allen County to listen to the turbines (1/4 mile away), he said there was more noise in the Commission room from the heater than from the turbines. He said there were cattle rubbing against the turbines. He said signers would lose 30’x30’ for one turbine. He said some will receive compensation from the wind farms. The skyline will change, but he said everyone is connected to electricity and said in Bourbon County we do not have any electrical generating facilities. He said coal facilities emit carbon, she said we won’t talk about nuclear energy, but said both require water, but wind power does not. He said with the drought in 2012 they about had to shut down the nuclear plant. He discussed an article in the USA Today (2/17/2020), a survey was done of 1,705 people of people that lived anywhere from ½ mile to 1 mile from wind turbines, 75% of the people that lived within ½ a mile had either neutral or positive feelings about the wind farms, 25% had negative or very negative attitudes. He said the location of the proposed wind farm is due to the elevation there and the power lines; he said elevated land is the least productive soil in the county. He said the benefit of the wind farms is that our homes would have electricity. He suggested people go look and listen to other wind farms. He encouraged people to support the project.
Nick Ruhl reported that the roof on the EMS building is leaking; Nick will meet with Dave Bruner to see where it is leaking at.
Lynne made a motion to go into a 5 minute executive session for consultation with an attorney for the body or agency which would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship, Nick seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners and Justin Meeks). No action was taken.
Nick made a motion to have a meeting Monday, March 2nd at 1:00 pm, this will be an executive session for consultation with an attorney for the body or agency which would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship, Jeff seconded and all approved.
Lynne made a motion to go into a 2 minute executive session for consultation with an attorney for the body or agency which would be deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship, Nick seconded and all approved, (the session included the Commissioners and Justin Meeks). No action was taken.
At 4:12, Jeff made a motion to adjourn, Nick seconded and all approved.