Fairfield Ledger
http://fairfield-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1179747

Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 31, 2014

Thank supervisors for cool heads

By Julie Johnston | May 08, 2014

To the editor:

It seems that the battle lines have been drawn, and once again it has brought legal action. Despite Mr. Leahy’s claim that it “isn’t about ‘us’ and ‘them’,” (Letter to the editor Fairfield Ledger, May 1) it really is.

An injuction has been filed in court to stop Heartland Co-op from proceding with the project on the basis of “the potential nuisance and quality of life injury” to the Leahy family, whose homes and business are near the proposed project.

On April 21 at an open meeting in the Jefferson County Courthouse courtroom, supervisors heard comments from the public both for and against the proposed elevator. I attended that meeting.

A large, very well organized group was present to state their case against the co-op. As the meeting was held at 9 a.m., farmers were hard at work attending to their business and unable to attend. The result was that the “overwhelming opposition to a construction project engineered by Heartland Coop” (“Devoid of Democratic Process” letter to the editor, Fairfield Ledger, April 24) was present hoping their many voices would sway the supervisors.

Supervisor Becky Schmitz put it best: “I represent ALL Jefferson County residents,” and Supervisor Dick Reed laid out the ground rules for the public comment portion of the meeting. Those rules allowed (mostly) equal time for both sides to speak, alternating between those for the project and those against. Had the “overwhelming opposition” had their way, the voice of local agriculture would have certainly been drowned out by their typewritten pages of comments. Thank you, supervisors, for maintaining a reasoned attitude in listening to all points of view.

Now a negative campaign has been launched with a website (http://www.countytaxpayers.com) which is very much against the Heartland elevator. It contains misinformation and articles from all over the USA about train derailments and “bad neighbor grain elevators.” The implication is that if Heartland is allowed to proceed, one of these tragedies will happen in Fairfield.

There is also mention of “rapid deterioration of county and city roads” and “Congesting traffic with their 200 semi-trucks per day in and around Fairfield.” These are not facts, just more misleading information.

One article on that website, titled “Heartland Co-op, End of Act 1” contains the following paragraph:

“Is it possible to create a green, progressive community in the middle of an increasingly industrial Agland state? Jefferson County’s population has changed over the last 40 years, and out of 16,000 residents, about 850 are farmers. Everyone wants a strong, vibrant Fairfield community and a healthy environment for the family and children’s children. As we reach out, we may just find that with education, the differences are not as great as they seem.”

This is called “reaching out”? Rather, there are ‘only 850 farmers’ and why should their livlihood matter when there are 15,150 residents whose desire for a “green, progressive” community should take precedence? Your website doesn’t represent them. Instead, it widens the gulf dividing the community.

 

– Julie Johnston, Packwood

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