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In My Opinion By Kris Yaniello

Keep up with happenings in and around northern
Blair County with “In My Opinion,” a weekly column by
The Daily Herald’s Staff Writer, Kris Yaniello.
The way things look, Tyrone Borough Council will most likely vote on Gamesa’s proposed 10 to 15 turbine wind farm on the Ice Mountain watershed property during its May 12 regular meeting. Council has already by-passed voting this month, and since there will now be a survey conducted at the voting booths in the borough on April 22, that leaves the May meeting as a possible date.
From being involved with this Gamesa project since around August 2007, I’ve been able to do a lot of research on wind energy development. I’ve had the opportunity to have quite a few conversations with project developer Josh Framel of Gamesa, along with many other people for and opposed to the wind farm site on Ice Mountain. Even a student based energy group from Drexel University contacted me about the tour I went on at the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm, because the students were interested in also taking the tour.
Special interest groups, wind action groups and even wildlife conservation groups comment to me frequently about the pros and cons of wind energy in Pennsylvania. Sometimes I feel like my life revolves around wind turbines. Thanks to tyronepa.com, the articles I write about this subject find ways to circulate all over the country on wind energy web sites – pro and con.
There are people all over the country that know about Tyrone’s wind farm proposal. It’s not simply a local thing. People from all over are trying to influence borough council’s decision and the thoughts of our residents. It’s not just people from PennFuture or Gamesa, it’s not just Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr., but it’s also people that are being brought in by the opposition’s side to influence our community, such as the case will be at the “Save Ice Mountain” public forum on March 26 – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
A lot of people opposed to this project complain about people coming into Tyrone to try to promote wind energy development. But the fact is, the opposition is doing the same thing. I don’t think there’s anything deceiving about either, but it’s not fair to look down upon one side of the issue when the other side has the same agenda. And really, it’s all propaganda anyway. It seems both sides have their “facts.” It’s up to council and the people to decide what facts they are willing to accept. I don’t think Tyrone has any wind energy experts living in the borough.
The more information from either side of this issue, the better for everyone. If I write an article about PennFuture and its thoughts on the importance of wind development in Pennsylvania, then it is what it is. If Gamesa calls me at the office and wants to do a follow-up article on something I wrote against the windmill project, then I provide that forum for them, as long as Gamesa presents its facts on the subject.
A lot of times, those opposed to this project take an article like that and think the Herald is supporting the Ice Mountain project. It’s strictly information. Just as if I write an article supporting the possible negative effects of windmills on Ice Mountain, which I have done on a number of occasions, that article is based on the information gathered for that particular subject. There’s no favoritism or anything like that, it’s all knowledge. Some may argue that the knowledge is wrong, but that depends on what side of the fence you stand with the Ice Mountain project.
I would imagine that many people in Tyrone know a lot more now about wind turbines and the positive and negative effects of wind farms than before, and that’s contributed to the efforts of Gamesa, our borough council, people like Dr. Stan Kotala, Bob Roseberry and the Save Ice Mountain coalition, our local state officials like Senator Eichelberger, residents from the Blue Knob area, many of the tyronepa.com forum members, the Altoona Mirror and even our little daily newspaper, the Herald.
And now, we as registered borough voters have the opportunity to get to the polls on April 22 and voice our opinion. I like that idea. It’s important to know that it’s an informal survey and the results won’t necessarily weigh on a decision by council either way, but I bet it will draw great interest by the council members.
I don’t think this survey takes away anything from the efforts of everyone who helped get the 1,400 plus petition signatures from residents in the 16686 ZIP code who oppose Gamesa’s wind farm proposal, but I do think it will truly get the opinion of the residents who live within the borough. It will get people here to go out and vote. This primary is set up to be very important for the democratic presidential nomination also.
People here in Tyrone have the knowledge and information from both sides of this issue, and there’s more knowledge to come at the Save Ice Mountain public forum on March 26. Borough residents need to show council how they stand on this topic on April 22.
That’s just my opinion.