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I have been interested to watch the various happenings regarding the wind farm proposed by NextEra in southern Marshall County. My position on the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) Board has given me the opportunity to be aware of this from early on.
I must say that I have been impressed by the way Marshall County officials have approached this. I have not necessarily been pleased with the county position that we should remain an agricultural based county, but using the wind farm model as one way of promoting that is effective. They did their due diligence on the issue before creating the zoning ordinance changes that allowed these farms. Marshall County officials met with county officials from counties with wind farms to review their ordinances and discuss what they thought they did right and what they did wrong. Our new county ordinance section that covers wind farms is an amalgamation and improvement on the ordinances of other counties that preceded it. I think they have done a good job.
Again from my interactions with MCEDC, I know that there are at least three wind farm companies considering sites in Marshall County. For months now I have known the name of one of them. (I just heard the name of one of the others for the first time last week.) I have seen announcements and attended presentations by one of them. I only know one of them that has tried to educate the public. In all cases that is NextEra. I am in no position to vouch for them and what they are doing other than to say that they are the only company that is being open about it. To the best of my knowledge, they are the only one that is an American company too.
I went to the presentation by the Concerned Citizen’s of Southern Marshall County (See their website here) that was held at the Culver Elementary School Gymnasium. While most of the information was interesting, I was disappointed where exaggerations were made. Unfortunately those exaggerations made all of the information suspect. An example of this was the discussion of the heights. The statements made at the gymnasium meeting were as follows: The proposed windmills are to be 450′ tall. That is equal to a 45 story building. That is taller than the skyline of Indianapolis which you can see from over ten miles away. It didn’t take much of an Internet search (here) to find that the tallest building in Indianapolis is the Chase Tower. It is 48 stories tall. It is 810′ tall. I don’t question that 450′ is a damned tall structure that will be seen from miles away, but why exaggerate it.
As many of you probably know, I am a board member on the Lake Maxinkuckee Environmental Fund (LMEF). I have been on the Fund board for over ten years and have served on the council for six. Because of my position on the MCEDC board, some felt that I had a conflict of interest in this issue, so I have chosen to recuse myself from LMEF votes on this issue. That has not particularly mattered since the votes passed unanimously sans my vote. I have participated in the discussion and have been disturbed by the turn it has taken. To my knowledge this is the first time that the Environmental Fund or Council has taken a position such as this without doing due diligence back up with independent consultants such as J.F. New & Associates. I was particularly disturbed by the recent email that went out from the fund stating that “we must not knowingly cause harm to any living thing.” Really? We have always promoted being good stewards of Lake Maxinkuckee as a resource, but statements like that cause us to drift dangerously towards the environmental whacko fringe.
I have taken a position through MCEDC that wind energy is a positive economic resource for Marshall County to use. As a member of LMEF, it appears that I am on the other side of this issue. Before the LMEF meeting I drove to White County and trespassed, walking right up to the base of one of the windmills. I was unmoved…
I really have no personal stake in this issue. I don’t find the the windmills visually objectionable, but I completely understand the position of those that do. I have to question some of the other things being dragged in and exaggerated to bolster their point though. I will continue to read the information from both sides with interest.
Credits to xkcd web comics for the wind turbine comic at the top of the page.
It’s been a while since my last update on Culver Garden Court. Things are proceeding quickly.
Rough-in is complete on wiring for the electrical, security and fire alarm systems. Plumbing rough-in is complete. HVAC rough-in is nearly complete. This has allowed installation of the wall insulation. Exterior wall insulation is complete and sound batts have been installed where required between units. Drywall installation has begun. The first thing to be drywalled will be the ceilings. This will allow blown-in insulation to be installed in the attic.
On the exterior, the faux stone wainscot installation has begun. Most of the stone is in place. Next will be wall caps and the column bases. Once wall caps are in place, siding and soffit installation will begin.
Installation of concrete walks and curbs is currently underway. This will allow us to proceed with paving preparations. We made some decisions on revised locations for the sign and flag pole, so the installation of those items can proceed as well.
We were recently commissioned to renovate an old garage in Culver. There is nothing more “green” than repurposing an existing structure. Plus in this case the existing structure sits on the property line, so to maintain the current access and location, it had to be remodeled rather than be rebuilt. The existing structure had two walls bowed to the point of being nearly off the foundation. The entire structure was out of plumb in at least two directions, one by approximately 5″ in 7′! It was a rather sad structure. In its pre-renovation condition the local squirrels were getting more use out of it than the property owner. New concrete walks, aprons and a new concrete floor were completed in conjunction with our work by another contractor.
This structure was not the best built in Culver when we arrived at the site. It appears that it was not originally built “square”. We tackled it with the intention of making the best of what was available. We started by grouting the block cores full in the foundation wall where the bottom plate had moved. The allowed us to pull the wall back into position and anchor the wall to the foundation in the correct position. We then reconnected the tie rafters to square the top of the wall. We were only able to partially achieve this goal as shelving had been added which held the wall slighly out of plumb.
At the corners we pushed and pulled them back to as close to plumb as possible. Sheets of OSB sheathing were installed on the inside of the walls at the corners to provide diaphragm framing. This diaphragm framing held the studs in place at their corrected locations.
The existing windows had been installed without headers. We reconstuctioned these openings with headers and installed new windows. The existing entry door was replaced with a standard door size. The existing sliding doors were replaced with sectional overhead doors. We also added new electrical wiring, replacing the old knob & tube wiring. Electrical wiring was brought underground from the house connecting to the existing electrical panel. GFI duplexes (inside and outside), interior lights and exterior wall sconces were added.
To finish out the exterior cosmetic changes we installed new siding, new soffit, new fascia and new architectural shingles. The resulting facelift was a phenominal improvement. Our client should take up a collection! I think the whole neighborhood has been improved by this renovation.
The owner is pleased and christened the renewed structure by camping out in it with her children the first night it was complete.
The above picture in a recent Culver Citizen caused a “blast from the past”, reminding me of our work on Heritage Park when it was first constructed back in 1997. We were commissioned to build the trellis panels and the arbor. The design was created by Mark Holeman (Mark M. Holman, Inc.) and was all custom sized and dimensioned. Mr. Holeman even custom sized the lattice which was constructed in a square pattern in lieu of the standard diagonal pattern. This was our first project with Mr. Holeman, but we have since worked with him on several projects around Culver and in other locations.
Richard Fisher of The Antiquarian and Historical Society of Culver coordinated various contractors to complete the park, so we were only involved with the carpentry. At that time our best carpenter for this kind of work was Ansel “Uncle Bud” Cripe. He was semi-retired and only working on custom woodworking projects such as cabinetry, railings and such. He was in his late seventies, turning 78 in September of ’97. He mumbled and groaned about the project, shaking his head, uttering an occasional signature “lawzy!” as he went through making patterns, gluing multiple layers to create the curved tops on the trellis panels and working through the intricacies of mounting the circle within the custom lattice for the arbor.
Per Mr. Holeman’s specifications, all of the wood used was redwood. Also per specifications it was all #1 clear redwood. This made the material costs high. There was no margin for error! Fasteners were non-staining, exterior grade. The glue and fillers also had to be exterior grade. Everything was built in sections at our shop. One of our crews assembled the pieces on site under Uncle Bud’s direction. Throughout the entire project, Richard Fisher was never far from the process. He came to our shop to review the progress and was also on site when the assembly was completed.
As with most carpenters, Uncle Bud loved working with high quality wood and he treated this project with reverence and respect. He spoke of it with pride in subsequent years, though he could never understand why they took that beautiful clear redwood and painted it green! Sacrilege! Particularly after he had carefully fit joints and hidden fasteners since the original plan was to only apply a clear sealer.
If you would want to support Heritage Park through the purchase of a commemorative brick, the Antiquarian and Historical Society of Culver has them for sale here. Bricks are available in single and double sizes. You can find a map of brick locations and a copy of Mark Holeman’s original site plan here.
Unfortunately both Uncle Bud and Richard have passed away. They are each unique characters from our past that are missed.
All of us at Easterday Construction Co., Inc. would like to congratulate Leroy and Margaret Bean on 50 years of marriage this week. Leroy and Margaret were part of the Easterday Construction family for over 40 years when Leroy retired. Leroy started here October 1st, 1961 as a truck driver and retired as a Site Superintendent demonstrating the potential for advancement in a Merit Shop company. We’ve been proud to watch Leroy become an active community volunteer in his retirement, working dilegently with the Lions Club, the Grace United Church of Christ and recently serving on the Culver Park Board.
Best wishes to Leroy and Margaret for many more happy years! There will be a reception for Leroy and Margaret at the Vandalia Railroad Station in Culver on July 30, 2011 from 1 to 5 pm.
Just for fun, you can see a reprint of an employee profile on Leroy from The Easterday Parade, our now defunct company newsletter here. This profile appeared in the Vol. I, No. 6, October 1990.