Supervisors Approve 3.25% Increase To Budget, Approve Wind Farm In SE Custer County

A lengthy Custer County Board of Supervisors meeting saw a number of approvals including the 2021-22 budget. During the hearing regarding the budget, a handful of citizens spoke regarding Ryno Road and if money would be in the budget to keep the road asphalt and not turn it into gravel. Board Chairman Barry Fox stated the county budgeted $4-$5 million for new surface projects for the entire county next year which was much higher than normal. He stated the board chose to dip into the inheritance fund to help soften the blow to taxpayers.

Currently their plan is to use a ‘hot-mix’ asphalt for the first five miles of the road, but there is no plan to follow at the moment. Matt Eggleston stated he has no issues if the road was gravel, he would prefer it was paved, but overall wants it to be safe and he stated that is currently not the case. Eggleston stated he had previously asked Highway Superintendent Chris Jacobsen if he had enough equipment and labor to keep up with the maintenance of roads and Jacobsen said he did not. Eggleston said the lack of funds allocated to equipment and labor was the most concerning piece of the budget.

Following public comment, the board approved the budget appropriation and adoption resolution and authorized petty cash funds for the departments ranging from $100 to $1,000. The 2021-22 asking from the county will be $7,213,481 a 3.25% increase over last year’s $6,986,263.56. A 1% increase was also approved in the restricted funds. The final tax request will be approved at the next meeting due to a republishing requirement.

Prairie Hills Wind Farms LLC. was re-approved for a conditional use permit in the southeast part of Custer County for a 212-megawatt wind farm project. According to the company representatives, the project has received 100% of the wind leases needed which included 90 landowners covering 41,000 acres. The $300 million project will have the potential to have 89 turbines but is only expected to have 35-70 turbines on the land.

Richard Chandler, one of the managers for the company, said Prairie Hills wants to be a part of the community and make sure if they are here to stay, the company supports the area organizations. According to the presentation they have supported the Custer County Foundation, Custer County Fair, Broken Bow Library Foundation, fire department, Custer County Food Pantry, and many other organizations and programs.

A few people spoke during the public hearing with a majority of the comments centering on the benefit to additional energy in the region, local support of power companies, and environmental benefits. One individual spoke against the wind farm stating there is published papers showing the negative effects of the constant noise and infrasound (low-frequency sound that cannot be heard by humans) from the turbines.

After public comments, the supervisors unanimously approved the four-year conditional use permit.

One other approval was entering into a contract with Miller & Associates regarding the railroad crossing near Anselmo.