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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Resident charges anti-solar group, official create negative climate in county

By Charlene Sims,

MOUND CITY – “All of these soothsayers are speaking lies and drama, not facts.” That was how Pleasanton resident Theresa Miller characterized the group of solar utility opponents in her blistering address to the Linn County Commission on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

As members of the anti-solar group that call themselves Citizens for Linn County sat in the audience, Miller, who is director of the Linn County Museum in Pleasanton, charged that the group and Commissioner Jim Johnson were creating a hostile environment that threatened county growth. Members of that group were reportedly heckling Miller as she spoke from the podium.

In a phone interview following the meeting, Miller said she was speaking for 30 or more people who were concerned about the direction the county was going but were afraid of being threatened or harassed if they spoke out. 

At the meeting, Miller said that one commissioner spoke with disrespectful tones and words when either speaking to or referring to the county’s elected officials or professional people. She said that the general attitude for the past many months had been so negative and abusive.

“I am embarrassed by some of the things discussed here in this room. Our county is so much in need of positive attitudes and ideas,” Miller said. “Our sheriff is not running again strictly because he has been treated so disrespectfully, questioned time and time again about what he needs to keep our county safe.

“Yet he has managed to turn the law center into a $2 million dollar business for our county while also creating a great working atmosphere, and doing a great job of investigating serious law breakers here in Linn County.”

She told the commissioners that she believed the sheriff needed not only an apology for this treatment but also deserves a much larger salary. However, she was critical of the County Attorney Barton Harding, saying he received a ridiculous amount of salary for a less than adequate job. 

“We believe our sheriff deserves at a minimum what we pay our inadequate prosecuting attorney,” said Miller, “Bottom line, our officials and other professional people trying to help our county run more effectively are being treated very disrespectfully.” 

She said another situation that was completely unacceptable was Commissioner Jim Johnson’s insisting on the removal of County Counselor Gary Thompson and Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower. 

“In our opinion, this is most inexcusable,” said Miller.

Referring to a sheet with census numbers, Miller told the commissioners that Linn County badly needs some good ideas for improving the number of people both visiting and moving here.

“We cannot flourish with all the negativity, often starting with our elected officials,” stated Miller. “As of late this whole debacle of solar power farms is completely unnecessary and very costly to all of our citizens, not to mention the aggressive and threatening attitude of certain people who don’t want them here.

“All of us, educated enough to know that they pose no danger, that they are not ruining our beautiful countryside, the power plant already shines bigger that anything around.”

She went on to say that the enterprise would ultimately help Linn County. Addressing the solar opponents concerns about the solar companies being foreign she said that she was confident that Evergy would not allow any solar company to hook into their grid lines if they were not trustworthy.

She asked why the commissioners are letting themselves and residents of the county be bullied into changing the decision they had made about the solar regulations. She reminded them that even County Clerk David Lamb and Thompson have advised them on this.

“We need to turn things around and get to the business of making Linn County a growing and economically healthy county where more tax-paying people want to come and live,” said Miller. “Not where they hear nothing but chaos and negativity.”

“To that end, I wish to step out and ask Mr. Johnson to familiarize himself with real integrity and submit his resignation. As he has constantly fed the negativity which is prevalent in our county right now, neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend.

She went on to tell the commissioners that she has been ridiculed, sworn at, threatened both in person and on the phone at her home.

                                                                                                                                                              “This is totally not OK. To conclude, it is past time for ‘real integrity’ to be practiced on everyone’s part,” said Miller.                                                                         

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