Cherrytree supervisor addresses solar interest

Growing interest in solar energy in Venango County was a topic of discussion at Tuesday’s county commissioners meeting.

Jim Waugh, a Cherrytree Township supervisor, spoke to the commissioners about recent inquiries by renewable energy companies to lease land for solar farms in the township.

“There is nothing in our zoning code about solar. We are putting a moratorium on solar until we look into the whole picture,” Waugh said.

He added that he is “not opposed to people using their property as they want”, but he said the township needs to get zoning rules in place “before things get out of hand.”

Waugh cited issues about leasing land, water use and mineral rights, along with some other reasons, for delaying the possible incursion of solar farms. He also said supervisors will do their homework on the issue.

The commissioners said Cherrytree’s supervisors were wise in their actions to slow down solar leasing until zoning rules are in place and more is known.

Commissioners chairman Sam Breene said he “didn’t begrudge anyone for making a buck” and was glad the potential solar leasing is being slowed but not stopped.

The local Penn State Extension office has arranged a workshop to provide information to area landowners about solar leasing, and the session is planned from 6:30 to 8 p.m. today at the Venango County Fairgrounds.

The workshop, held in conjunction with the Clarion-Venango-Forest Farm Bureau, is free and open to the public. Reservations aren’t required, and several landowners have indicated they plan to attend the workshop.

In other business, several guests from Riders Advocating Against Child Abuse attended Tuesday’s meeting at the invitation of the commissioners.

Group members attend trial and court hearings to provide emotional support for children who have suffered abuse. They also help families financially so things like meals and travel expenses can be covered during court proceedings.

The group also gives educational presentations in schools and at community events.

A Venango County chapter of Riders Advocating Against Child Abuse was formed in November by several members of the Erie chapter from Venango County. They wanted to “make a difference and do the right thing” locally, said chapter president Jeff Cross.

“Most of us have kids, so we have a soft spot in our hearts for kids,” chapter member Shawn Latchaw said.

All chapter members have FBI, state, court mandated reporter and child abuse clearances, Cross said.

Commissioners welcomed Kelly McKenzie as the new county jail warden.

The panel also approved the reappointments of Lance Bowes, Debra Frawley, Michael Henderson, Sandy K. Hovis, Debbra Kapp and Chris Porter to the Two Mile Run Park Advisory Board. Rick Hulsizer was appointed to the Two Mile board.

The commissioners also issued proclamations to honor the citizen, business and partner of the year that will be recognized next week at the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner.

Jamie Hunt is the citizen of the year, Webco Industries the business of the year and the Oil City Main Street Program the partner of the year.

The commissioners also proclaimed Tuesday as 2-1-1 Day.

Will Price, the executive director of the United Way of Venango County, said the entire state is covered by 211, so a person can make one call anywhere in the state and reach a 211 resource navigator to access human services resources as needed.

Before 211, an individual would make an average of seven to 10 calls to get the help they needed, Price said.

Commissioners also approved a contract for two 911 radios to have WiFi and other capabilities activated that would allow them to work outside the 911 headquarters in the event of an emergency.