CRYSTAL LAKE | A 100-turbine wind energy center in Hancock County is getting an upgrade.
That’s what a NextEra Energy Resources, LLC representative told the Hancock County Board of Supervisors Monday, Dec. 10, during its weekly meeting.
“These upgrades will be good for Hancock County and the Crystal Lake community,” said Conlan Kennedy, a NextEra Energy Resources spokesman. “It means we’ll generate more renewable energy over an extended period, which also extends the period we’ll generate payments to landowners and tax benefits.”
The upgrades are set to begin in January and be completed by May, so people who live and work near the center will see trucks, cranes and other equipment moving in and out of the area.
The project come more than a decade after the first Crystal Lake Wind Energy Center site, comprising 100 1.5-megawatt General Electric wind turbines, was completed in Hancock County.
Since the wind farm was built in 2008, there have been “significant enhancements in turbine technology.”
Kennedy said NextEra is working with General Electric to integrate the new technology, including longer blades and other turbine components, into the existing wind energy center to improve their performance and generate more electricity for customers.
“Think of it like taking an older car and installing a new, fuel-efficient engine in it to get better gas mileage and drive more cost-effectively,” he said.
The wind energy center features two additional sites in Winnebago County. One features 80 2.5-megawatt Clipper wind turbines, while the other consists of 44 1.5-megawatt General Electric wind turbines.
According to NextEra Energy Resources, the three sites are capable of producing enough electricity for about 67,000 homes.
NextEra Energy Resources, a leading generator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun, operates more than 120 wind projects in 21 states and Canada.
Kennedy said the company has repowered other wind energy centers across the country to improve efficiency. A site in Winnebago County will also be upgraded.
A meeting was held for landowners to vocalize questions or concerns on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
MASON CITY | The 52 residents at the Four Oaks Psychiatric Institute for Children in Mason City received a special gift on Thursday.
The Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge, which participates in a different charity each year, made 52 fleece tie blankets, one for each child, and delivered them on Thursday.
Four Oaks has been working with children experiencing mental and behavioral issues since 1973 in what was once known as Gerard Treatment Center in the old MacNider mansion on Iowa Avenue on the outskirts of Mason City.
In 2015, the 32-bed Psychiatric Medical Institute for Children opened at 80 N. Eisenhower Ave. near Francis Lauer Youth Services and the west campus of Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa.
Mike Svejda from the Moose Lodge told the Globe Gazette they chose Four Oaks because it's not typically in the spotlight and they wanted to draw attention to the facility and its programs.
Kaci Vandeventer, program director at the Four Oaks, was on hand to receive the gift on Thursday.
"The outreach that we get from the community, especially around this time of year, is amazing and people are so warm and willing to give," Vandeventer said.
"The kids love being able to cuddle up with warm blankets on these cold winter nights in North Iowa. Any time people reach out to us in a giving spirit, the kids and the staff really appreciate it."
DES MOINES — The woman who claims Sen. Nate Boulton sexually harassed her in 2015 said she understands why a state ethics committee dismissed her complaint.
But Sharon Wegner said state lawmakers should consider expanding the scope of the committee’s authority to hold legislators accountable when they are not in the Iowa Capitol.
On Thursday, the six-member Iowa Senate Ethics Committee voted unanimously to dismiss Wegner’s complaint against Boulton.
Wegner, a Des Moines attorney, says Boulton touched her inappropriately at a social event in 2015. Boulton, also a Des Moines attorney, said he does not remember the alleged harassment, possibly because of excessive alcohol consumption.
The ethics committee reviewed the complaint, and chairman Jerry Behn recommended its dismissal because the alleged sexual harassment occurred before Boulton was elected to the Senate, and the Senate’s ethics code does not cover individuals before their election.
Wegner said she understood the committee’s ruling.
“Procedurally, I believe it is the correct determination that the committee made today,” Wegner told reporters after the brief committee meeting. “But I believe that it’s important for people to know, to realize, that the ethics rules don’t apply generally to a sitting representative when they’re not here at the Capitol. And I believe that’s something that should change.”
Boulton did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Sen. Janet Petersen, of Des Moines, leader of the Senate Democrats, praised the women who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Boulton, and repeated her call for Boulton to resign from the Senate.
“I commend the women who shared their detailed and compelling concerns about Sen. Boulton’s behavior,” Petersen said in a statement. “When women have the courage to come forward to blow the whistle about being harassed, we need to show them there is a pathway to justice.
“I still believe Sen. Boulton should resign from the Iowa Senate," she said.
Wegner and two other women first made their allegations public to the Des Moines Register in May. Boulton at the time was seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor; he suspended his campaign soon after, days before the primary election.
Boulton plans to complete his term in the Iowa Senate. He has two years remaining on his four-year term.