Dear Editor,
A few weekends ago, a family member of mine passed away, so we went back for the funeral. It was a quick trip thanks to Mother Nature, but it was enough time to see plenty. The first day we were out there, of course my Dad wanted to drive around to see the Windmills. It’s been several years since I’ve been back, and a LOT has changed since the last time. On our way out of town, the first comment he made was about the roads, and how thankful he was. Not only did the wind companies fix the roads, they are in better shape now than they were before they moved in. There are now 3 energy companies that have turbines there. Kansas City Power and Light, Westar and Duke energy. As we drove by the main offices for Duke and Westar, there were 10-15 vehicles at each place. Take that times 3, that’s a LOT of jobs. Maybe not for a town the size of Crawfordsville, but for a small town like Waynetown, Alamo, Wingate, Darlington, that’s a LOT jobs. The loss of farm ground is very minimal. Most of the farmers like them because it gives them a good solid road in the field to load trucks on, hook/unhook heads, etc. I’ve worked on a farm here. A lot of that stuff is done on the road. Loading a truck on the road is dangerous and often a hinderance to other drivers. Many of our roads are very busy. I spent a lot of time sitting on the side of the road wondering if I was going to get hit. Allowing this to be done in the field would be so much better. During the drive, he pointed out several places where someone was going to build a house. Yes, you read that right. People are wanting to not only move there, but build a home there. There is one housing development currently in progress and another one in the works. I can’t speak for other places, but property values in Spearville and Ford County have not dropped. If anything they went up. They have seen no loss of property values as a result of the windmills. Driving around the town, I barely recognized it. It looks nothing like the town I grew up in. It looks better. Far better. It’s cleaner. And they’ve made a lot of cosmetic improvements, like curb and guttering. They have added several businesses, which adds more jobs. Crustbuster is a business that makes farm equipment. Drills, graincarts, etc. It started in Spearville. When I graduated, they had moved their main offices to Dodge City and were in the process of closing the plant in Spearville. Not only did they keep it open, they built a new big building. Ag Alliance built a new building in town. Businesses are investing in Spearville. And as I mentioned earlier, that is HUGE for a town that size. And I haven’t got to the best part yet. I had a short conversation with the Superintendent of the school. They have not seen any drop in enrollment since the wind farms moved in. In their agreement, the county divides the funds between the county, the school, the hospital, the community college, and the townships. And the school is fortunate enough to get a separate payment from the energy companies as well. The school is nothing like it was when I graduated. It is all new and much bigger. My high school was a small building. Now the school takes up the entire block. They added a parking lot across the street. Lack of parking was a big issue when I was in school. The most recent bond would not have passed with the help of the wind companies. The bond for all these improvements is being paid for by the donations from the energy companies. And not being passed on to the tax payers. Some of the other things they’ve been able to do with the donations are, Built a new science lab and Special Education Room. Install energy efficient lighting. Build a division one track. Build a new football concessions building. District wide one to one Chromebooks and IPad. Provide each teacher with a promethean television. A new baseball/softball field complex. The community knows how lucky they are to have all of this. On the way out of town, I went to visit my sister. She lives in Jetmore, which is the next town to the north. On the way out to her house, I drove by their high school. It is the same old building that was built in the 40’s or 50’s. Budget for school funding is pretty rough in the state of Kansas right now. Other schools are struggling to get money to fund what they have now. Thanks to wind energy, Spearville has SO many more things to offer. If you had to choose where to send your kids to school, would you send them to a brand new complex with state of the art equipment? Or would you send them to a small building that’s at least 50 or 60 years old? It’s a no brainer for me. To say wind energy has had a tremendous impact on Spearville is an understatement. Mr Reed wrote a very good response to my last letter. I really appreciate the nice things he said about my community. But I think he actually makes the case for why we need wind energy. First of all, he is right. When he was out there, there was nothing to do. It emphasizes the need for growth in a community or it will die. Like I said before, Spearville was headed there. But it’s more alive now than it’s ever been. And yes, Kansas has a lot of wide open country. But the fact that they want to build here, shows that we have plenty of wind to make them a viable operation. They wouldn’t be trying to build otherwise. I’ve lived both places. The terrain is more similar than you think. From the Parke county line north, this terrain is pretty much the same. The only difference is there are way more trees here. Wind energy can, and will work here. I understand not every agreement is going to be the same. But if we do this right, we can and will experience the same kind of growth, if not more. We need all your help and support. Call your commissioners or councilmen and let them know you support this project. Come to the meetings. Let them know you want this community to live, not die. Thank you.
Darren Heeke,
Crawfordsville