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Wind farm opponent runs write-in campaign for District 4

Staff writer

Florence resident Tom Britain, who earlier ran in the primary race for District 4 county commissioner only to be beaten by incumbent David Crofoot, has launched a write-in campaign.

“I’m a glutton for punishment,” Britain said of his decision to make another run against Crofoot.

A third candidate, Amy Soyez, ran also in the primary election. Britain said Soyez and her husband took a buyout from Expedition Wind, the company working to develop a wind farm in the southern portion of the county.

Britain has been an outspoken opponent of wind farm development. He earlier joined with several others in filing lawsuits against the county and Expedition Wind.

In fact, one of his campaign claims points directly to his opposition to the wind farm.

“I have already saved taxpayers $35,000,000,” Britain said.

He said he saved that money by blocking the wind farm from earning a year’s worth of production tax credits by filing lawsuits against the county and wind farm.

The loss of production tax credits prompted Expedition Wind to file its own suit against remaining plaintiffs.

Britain said he’s been opposed to the entire development of the wind farm since day one.

He’s been opposed to the wind farm development since Florence resident Rex Savage began trying to develop a wind farm and later sold the plans to others.

“It’s the people it affects — it affects me,” he said. “I love the Flint Hills.”

He said he has Indian artifacts on his property and that Expedition didn’t conduct an archeological study to locate artifacts.

“The records show they didn’t,” Britain said.

Britain’s land is not in the footprint of the planned wind farm.

The wind farm companies are only there to make money, he said.

“At my expense, my quality of life,” Britain said.

Britain objects also to the county’s plan to have county engineer Brice Goebel inspect wind farm haul routes designated in a road maintenance agreement with Expedition.

“They should use a professional instead of him,” Britain said.

Britain said he wants also to promote transparency, honesty, fairness, and better road maintenance.

The road and bridge department is not adequate for the work that needs to be done, he said.

“I don’t think they’re set up for what they need to be doing,” Britain said.

Additionally, the road department needs to buy harder rock to properly maintain county roads, he contends.

He claims the county planning and zoning board is biased and he wants to make it fairer.

“It’s a horrible deal they’ve got set up,” he said. “I asked to be on the planning and zoning and they wouldn’t let me.”

Board members should have more training, he said, so they can be more qualified for what they are doing.

“The board does not keep proper minutes of meetings,” he said.

Minutes don’t reflect every word said during meetings.

Britain objects to spending decisions made by county commissioners.

Commissioners should not give themselves annual bonuses, and should not purchase equipment and buildings with lease purchase agreements when money could be taken out of the budget, he said.

Britain does have words of praise for county emergency medical services.

“I think things are well in place with that,” he said.

That said, he doesn’t like the idea of forming a joint emergency services center in Hillsboro.

Hillsboro council members have envisioned a center that would serve law enforcement and medical services. Such a plan, however, has not been fleshed out.

“I don’t care for them spending money when they don’t have a plan,” Britain said. “We could have bought a building. We had the money to do it.”

Britain also dislikes the idea of the county making purchases from businesses operated by commissioners such as Crofoot and Jonah Gehring.

The purchases include embroidered items, masks, and trophies from Western Associates, owned by Crofoot, and electrical supplies from Elcon Services, owned by Jonah Gehring.

“I don’t like that conflict of interest,” Britain said.

Britain disagrees with the county giving the Bowron Building at Main and 3rd Sts. to the city of Marion, which sold it to a Wichita resident.

“Why didn’t the county sell it?” Britain said.

Britain said commissioners should keep closer tabs on spending by department heads.

His wide range of experience qualifies him for the position, he said.

He attended college for a year, worked in a quarry, was an engineering technician for the state, spent 16 years with the Santa Fe railroad, was a rural mail carrier, and worked in the gas and oil fields.

His mother, Lucille Britain, was the first female county commissioner, in office six years until her death in 1992.

Last modified Oct. 22, 2020

 

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