It’s been almost a year since a group of concerned Henry County residents asked local officials for a formal set of rules to “protect the citizens and the county” from industrial solar projects.
Line by line Thursday, the Henry County planners went over the draft of their new rules for industrial solar fields.
Line by line Thursday, the planning commission considered additions, retractions and rewordings to the ordinance.
By the end of the near-three-hour meeting, the six present members of the Henry County Planning Commission decided this draft ordinance is ready for the big time.
Zoning Administrator Darrin Jacobs will make a few changes to the draft ordinance at the planning commission’s request and then post it to the county web site for public review.
This new Solar Energy Systems (SES) ordinance draws a line between “small-scale” and “large-scale” systems. It outlines property line setbacks, fencing and landscaping requirements.
The SES rules also spell out that industrial solar arrays have to come with a set decommissioning fund.
Planning commission president Ed Yanos spoke about the process before the planners voted to accepted the new rules.
“This group (the planning commission) started work last winter, this group started gathering input and it was fully my intention to have the solar ordinance in place by late spring at the latest,” Yanos said. “COVID-19 has definitely interfered with that timetable.”
Yanos said the pandemic is not the sole reason, however, that it took a year to create Henry County’s comprehensive solar ordinance.
The planning commission has reached out to the Henry County public for as much input as possible drafting this ordinance. They wanted to avoid a repeat of the past clashes around the Henry County Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS) ordinance that is in place for industrial wind farms.
There were multiple field trips to solar farms over the summer and a two-hour “listening session” in late July for public comments and concerns. Before the coronavirus cancelled government meetings, the Henry County Planning Commission hosted speakers from the energy industry, too.
“I was in more of a hurry than a lot of people. I wanted to get this thing done fairly early,” Yanos said. “We had been urged by people who had concerns about this ordinance, we had been urged repeatedly ‘Take your time. Make sure you do it right. There’s no hurry.’”
Yanos said those same people are now telling the planning commission “there should have been a hurry.”
“Now all of a sudden, they’re unhappy we don’t have this in place when people are applying (for permits),” he said. “You can’t have it both ways.”
Solar energy company Lightsource bp filed an application Wednesday for a commission-approved use (CAU) to build an industrial solar farm in southern Henry County. A second project is planned near Greensboro by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources LLC.
Jacobs said the Lightsource bp project will be regulated by the county development code rules that were in place the day they applied.
NextEra had not filed any local applications as of Thursday’s planning commission meeting.
The planning commission will have a public hearing some time in November over the final draft of the ordinance. They still have the option to make changes to it before recommending the new rules to the Henry County Commissioners for final adoption.
The Henry County Commissioners passed a solar project moratorium Wednesday to try stopping anymore projects from coming in before the new ordinance becomes law. At that same meeting, the county commissioners passed a resolution pushing WECS setbacks to 3,300 feet from property lines.
Because those have to do with zoning restrictions, state law requires the planning commission to hold a public hearing on the proposed moratorium before returning it to the commissioners.
The planning commission will also be planning those public hearings in November.
County meetings are being rearranged for next month because of Thanksgiving. The new scheduled meetings had not been announced as of press time.
KENNARD — From several seat walkers to shower chairs, traditional walkers, canes and lift-assistance supplies, Kennard Senior Living has more than it can use for its residents.
The health-aid equipment has been accumulated or donated to the campus through the years. Facility co-owner George King thinks its time to share the bounty with the community at large.
“People are donating this stuff,” King says. “If somebody needs something, just call and see if I’ve got it. We have been blessed. People are taking care of us so we can take care of people.”
Currently 15 of the 18 apartments are rented in the building that was transformed from Kennard Elementary School into senior apartments.
King said for four years he was president of the Kennard Lions Club and the club had a project of loaning such equipment to the community. He says this is continuing that tradition.
Along with the above-mentioned items, there is a walker tray, a toilet-assist, lift chairs and more. King mentions that he has a couple special toilets with removable canisters that can be lined with plastic bags to collect human waste.
He mentions that for people on septic tanks, one of the main reasons for those to fail is if someone in the household is on chemotherapy medications. He said with these chairs, the urine and other waste can be collected in plastic bags and put into the regular trash.
He said it is not considered a bio-hazard, however, the interaction of the material with a septic system does not allow the system to work properly due to certain drugs.
While King is happy to loan any of the items in stock, it is appreciated if the items are returned once no longer needed.
As for future donations to the facility, he is happy to take them if they are in great shape.
Resident Peggy Lowe said she thinks the idea of lending the equipment to others is “fantastic,” adding, “The community will find it useful.”
Another resident, Debi Stewart, concurs. Referring to some types of equipment for loan that she uses, she says, “Yes, we all would be lost without them.”
To inquire about borrowing any of the equipment, call the facility at 765-624-9342 or visit at 232 N. Vine St., 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays except for Wednesdays, and ask for King.
He says of the excess items, “More than I need. There’s no need of them sitting back there not being used.”
When asked what’s new at the facility, King mentions the breakfasts and lunches for sale, available to residents and the public from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays. Then Thursdays through Sundays from 4-10 p.m. they have pizza for sale, also open to the community. Call 765-781-2233 for details.
King talks about the card games and kids playing in the gym as well as the new pizza ovens and the enclosed dog park when speaking about what’s new at the facility.
“Before COVID, this place rocked every weekend,” King says. “It’s going to again.”
The New Castle City Council will be meeting on October 19, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. utilizing the Zoom app. The meeting may be viewed by the public on the City’s YouTube site: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOKHildfT nBSGysh0BTdzWw.
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Henry County residents who want to vote by mail should make sure their ballots are sent to the clerk’s office no later than noon, Monday.
Nan Polk, president of the Henry County League of Women Voters, explained a recent court ruling pushed the mail-in deadline up to allow for more time to count what is anticipated to be a high number of ballots.
“Absentee ballots must be received by the Clerk’s Office by noon, Nov. 3,” Polk said. “That means your ballot must be mailed early in order to guarantee it is received on time. We recommend mailing by (Monday) Oct. 19. After that, please hand-deliver it to the Voter Registration Office at the Justice Center, 1215 Race St., New Castle.”
While time is short, Polk said there still may be time to request an absentee ballot. Requests can be made online by filling out an application at Indianavoters.com or by calling 765-529-9310.
“Remember, you must have an excuse to qualify for an absentee ballot,” Polk said.
Meanwhile, early in-person voting has started at the Justice Center and will occur at Ivy Tech starting next Saturday, Oct. 24. Reports from voter registration officials indicate voter lines have been long. Unlike requesting an absentee ballot, no reason needs to be given and no paperwork is filled out for a person to vote early.
“Remember to leave your cell phone behind, mask-up and bring your photo ID,” Polk said. “Vote informed by visiting vote411.org for a complete voting guide sponsored by the Indiana League of Women Voters.”
Early voting continues through Monday, Nov. 2. Monday through Friday with hours at 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. Two Saturday opportunities at the justice center will also offer voting from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m.
Ivy Tech will also be open for early voting Monday through Friday, Oct. 26-30, from 2 to 7 p.m. as well as Saturdays Oct. 24 and Oct. 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Polk emphasized patience, not panic, where the general election was concerned.
“It is likely voting results will not be available Nov. 3,” Polk said. “This is not a conspiracy. Due to the extremely high volume of early voting, and because many states, including Indiana, do not count votes until Election Day, it will take several days to tally the results.”
Poll workers from both parties are still needed. Call 765-529-9310 to sign up for these paid positions.
NAME: Harold R. Griffin
Why are your running for Henry County Council At-Large?
I’ve enjoyed very much serving on the Henry County Council over the past years and want to continue serving Henry County citizens to the best of my ability. I look forward to assisting and attracting new businesses and factories to the county that bring more revenues and jobs. It is also very important to keep and assist existing businesses. COVID-19 has impacted many of our local businesses. We promptly addressed this by providing relief funds. All of the businesses in our county are highly valued.
What are the top three issues you see facing the henry county budget right now?
1. I am very concerned we could lack the funds to operate our county properly due to the state government cutting funds the last several years. It has been very difficult to constantly review how to meet the needs in the county. Dealing with the financial issues resulting from COVID-19 will also be challenging.
2. Maintaining the medical insurance costs for our county employees. Insurance premiums tend to go up every year. Retaining experienced and talented employees is critical in serving our county residents.
3. Reaching out to our all of the town councils as they too have to deal with funding cuts. How can we all work together with the funds that are allocated to the county.
How would you address these as a council member?
As a council member it is important to work together as a team to prioritize issues and projects. It is important to research an issue for long term success, not just do a quick fix. Quick fixes or postponing an issue can create more issues and end up costly far more in the long run.
What is your background?
I served on the Henry County Sheriff’s Department for 25 years including holding the position of Sheriff. Additionally, I currently serve as a Council member. Both of these positions have given me enormous experience working on county budgets including tax abatements, incentives and other duties required of a Council member. And finally, as a former businessman I understand what it takes to run a business successfully.