Commissioners OK test turbines near Tampa

Marion County commissioner gave their final approval Monday for Trade Wind Energy, headquartered in Lenexa, to install about a half-dozen temporary test turbines in the Tampa area.

The project will measure whether wind speeds justify installing a larger wind turbine farm to generate electricity.

Brice Barton, senior development director for Trade Wind, said public interest in the potential development of the farm has been very high. About 125 landowners attended a recent public meeting on the subject in Tampa, and 70 attending a follow-up meeting.

The county?s planning and zoning commission had already approved the proposal before passing it on to the commissioners, who proved the version with only a few minor changes.

Among the minor changes were designating it as Diamond Vista Wind Energy, in part to separate it from Trade Wind Energy in the event of final development.

Rex Savage, who has long worked to establish the Windborne turbine project in the south part of the county, said the Diamond Vista project is a positive development for wind energy in Marion County.

The commissioners also approved creation of a five-person committee to help create a new basis for a uniting county economic development that would use more input from business persons rather than predominantly local government employees.

Commissioner Dan Holub said there is little sense for city development personnel and the county to be working at cross purposes when a united effort is needed.

Transfer station trouble

Bruce Boettcher of BG Consultants, who normally acts in bridge and road engineering consultation with the county, told commissioners his requested inspection of the transfer station shows the structure is gradually failing, and is in danger of ?catastrophic collapse? under the loads it is expected to bear.

Boettcher said it is a fundamental problem of the building that it was designed, along with the concrete load-bearing structure, to operate as a power plant, and not as a structure with the types of heavy loads passing over its floor.

The steady stream of heavy loads, Boettcher said, is deteriorating the concrete with potential rebar exposure, causing a bad situation.

Commissioners asked Boettcher to extend his consultation services by looking at a small hill on the south county shops near Marion as a possible location for a new transfer station and recycling center with improved and expanded function.

Storage squeeze

Another construction project may be needed. County Attorney Susan Robson said she has run out of room for the additional legal records she is required to keep, and asked the commissioners to advise on additional storage.

Commission Chair Randy Dallke said this and other paper storage needs makes it imperative for the commission to proceed with raising at least the shell of a planned metal building on county land southwest of the courthouse.

Other business

In other business the commissioners approved Robson?s expenditure of $1,009.20 for computer equipment to keep up with court upgrades.

District Judge Michael Powers and Sheriff Robert Craft said there are increasingly times in the Marion County District Court when a uniformed officer is needed in the courtroom so this presence deters behaviors that could get out of hand.

Powers said there are even times when his judgment requires a jail sentence for a potentially unruly prisoner that the subject simply is told to sit in the hallway to await an officer.

They said other counties in the district have more security on hand.

Craft said such an officer may need to be given other functions to have full-time employment.

County election workers joined the commissioners for the final part of the meeting to view the function of an electronic polling system that may replace paper for office use.

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