Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

April 6, 2014

Voters will have their say

Back in December 2012, a sea change took place in Tipton County.

A bunch of people who had previously looked at local government with indifference suddenly became activists, fired up over the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm.

For most of last year, the wind farm issue consumed everything in Tipton County, as opponents organized to stop a plan which had sailed through the county commissioners and the county council.

Now comes the political reckoning for those who supported the Prairie Breeze plan.

May 6, three races could determine whether Tipton County joins Boone County in banning wind farms completely.

Commissioner Phil Heron, who voted for the Prairie Breeze project, has a primary battle with Gerald Shuck, a Haynes retiree who is campaigning on the wind issue.

Tipton County Councilman Dennis Henderson has an anti-wind opponent in Eric Parent, while Mike Orr, one of the leaders in favor of the Prairie Breeze project, is running against wind opponent Jim Leffler for the GOP nomination for the District 3 council seat.

I asked Heron if it was safe to assume Prairie Breeze was the big issue in the Republican primary.

“That’s a very safe assumption,” Heron said.

“There is another side to the issue,” he said. “I would not ban wind. I think that’s why they’re mad at me.”

There’s no question, judging from the tone of some of the dozens of letters the Tribune has received on the Prairie Breeze issue, that some people are flat out upset.

Others, like Shuck, try to focus specifically on the county’s new wind ordinance, which the commissioners passed after widespread criticism of the previous ordinance.

“I’m kind of divided. I’m not actually against the wind, but I wasn’t really in favor of it either,” Shuck said. “There’s a place for [turbines]. My main concern is the ordinances, and how they protect the people.”

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