Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 27, 2013

Windmill issue blows again

By WILSON BUTT
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Apparently the windmill boys are at it again. Knowing they would not likely get any support in this area, they enlisted the help of Virginia Senator Richard L. Saslaw, who represents Fairfax County and Alexandria.

According to Dominion Power Company’s 2011 political contributions and lobbying expenses report, “Dominion did not make any independent political expenditure in support or in opposition to a political candidate or party.” However, the Virginia Public Access Project reports that Dominion is Saslaw’s most generous donor — $135,000 since 2007, including $30,000 in 2011 and another $20,000 in 2012.

Saslaw’s introduction of Senate Bill 1341 would exempt certain electrical generation facilities powered by renewable sources of energy from local zoning and land use requirements. The exemption applies to a facility that is owned by an electric utility, has a capacity of at least four megawatts, is on a parcel of at least 25 acres, and has received all required approvals and permits from the State Corporation Commission and environmental regulators.

While there are people who support placing windmills on the ridge of the beautiful East River Mountain, there are many more people who do not, especially those who live within the viewshed. It looks like we still have some of the best politicians money can buy. I think I heard someone on the Virginia side mention tar and feathers. Dominion Power does not serve this area.

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Princeton recently lost a wonderful person. I had known Everette K. Bailey for half a century. I noted that a large number of young people attended his services. That in itself spoke more about his character and his dedication to youth than any words could describe. We are going to miss Everette. Incidentally, I found myself driving along the “Everette Bailey Road” near Lamar last Tuesday.

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Construction of the new Mercer County Health Department facility is moving along quite well. The block work is complete. At this point the contractor is ahead of schedule. The county commission also hired Cliff Pannell of Bluefield as Clerk of the Works for the county Health Department on a contract basis to monitor the new building project.

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Saturday, a week ago, I was on my way to the bank at the end of College Avenue. I noticed a small truck skid sideways. On the way back I was following a lady in a small SUV. She hit the same patch of ice near the College Avenue Baptist Church, lost control, made a complete circle and wound up sideways in the opposite lane. Luckily she did not hit anything.

I called city hall to report the ice situation — no answer (I didn’t expect one). I called the city garage — again no answer, but I did leave a message. Out of desperation I called the city police department. The dispatcher put me on hold twice (It was lunchtime.) The third time I called I gave a very short description of the problem. Then I called Mayor Linda Whalen. The mayor graciously returned my call and I explained what the problem was. She said that she would see that the problem was corrected and we both agreed that some action needed to be taken quickly to prevent a serious accident.

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Then on Monday the traffic light on U.S. Route 460 at Maryland Avenue malfunctioned. That created a serious problem for parents, teachers and school buses trying to get to Bluefield Intermediate School. Why that school was ever built on the south side of that busy highway boggles my mind. What was the school board thinking? The state Division of Highways did respond to the matter.

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There you have it, a few comments on items of interest to the area. It has been cold but we did have a few nice days and blue skies. I hope you have many more blue sky days ahead. February will be short.

Wilson Butt, a resident of Bluefield, is a retired Department of Highways official.