An open letter from Roger Leahy
The owners of Overland Sheepskin have issued the following official statement about the location of the Heartland Co-op’s industrial grain elevator complex:
To the editor:
My name is Roger Leahy, co-owner of Overland Sheepskin. We’re long-time members of the Fairfield farming community—with three generations of the Leahy family involved in the management of Overland. Our 40-year-old sheepskin coat business is headquartered in Fairfield. Our office/showroom has provided steady income for an average of 30 employees for over four decades, plus millions of dollars in tax revenues to the city, county and state. My parents are farmers, growing hay, and raise 150 llamas here on our family’s land.
We support local agriculture, our farm neighbors and the need for grain elevators to help get products to market. However, we’re strongly opposed to the location of the grain elevator complex right next door to our residence and business. This close proximity will seriously impact our quality of life and jeopardize our health..
For a project of this size, we’re dismayed that no studies have been conducted to assess environmental, health, traffic, safety, and economic impacts to nearby neighbors and the community. We’re concerned that Heartland has consistently refused to disclose details of the project. They have not been the “good neighbors” they claim to be.
To protect our vital interests, I’ve had no choice but to retain legal counsel because we’re not giving up the wonderful life we’ve lived in Fairfield without a fight. We are very willing to work with Heartland to help find a more appropriate site that will provide all the necessary services to our farmers but be located so as not to injure anyone’s health or quality of life.
Please don’t believe the rumors and assumptions you might hear. Tired old prejudices have a way of recycling themselves at times like these. This isn’t about “us” and “them.” The real issues affect every one of us in the Fairfield community. Based on the experience of other communities like Chapin, Iowa, a very large number of our Fairfield community will unfortunately soon realize that they, like we, also are neighbors of the Heartland Co-op grain elevator, and that the quiet enjoyment of their homes and daily lives will be seriously compromised by this industrial complex. We all breathe the same air! And I repeat: we are not against the grain elevator project, but we are opposed to the location.
In the end, we’re looking for a win-win solution. We encourage Heartland to consider another more suitable location—that’s far enough away from where people live. We’re committed to helping them find that better placement, and even discussing the financial costs for relocation.
We’re doing everything we can to protect our home and family…We think if you were in our shoes you’d do the same thing.
– Roger Leahy, Fairfield