Opponents of industrial wind turbines had an audience Wednesday with the Henry County Council.

The council also heard from Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David about a local juvenile initiative. David took the opportunity to swear Henry County Judge Bob Witham in as the new Henry Circuit Court 1 judge.

Gary Rodgers and Jim McShirley asked the council, who have authority over granting tax abatements for wind projects, to consider the impact turbines could have on land usage rights of their neighbors.

Rodgers hoped to illustrate the long-term effects that Henry County residents could experience if the county council enticed wind farms to the area with tax incentives. Rodgers explained that he understands the county commissioners have final say on ordinances.

The three Henry County Commissioners were present during the council meeting.

In a slideshow presentation, Rodgers showed how property owners would effectively lose the ability to build on their land if a turbine went up next door. County guidelines would not allow them to build within the wind turbine setback radius. Rodgers’ presentation showed several tracts of land being whittled down as more and more hypothetical turbines were erected in the area.

McShirley followed Rodgers with a presentation about the economic future of Henry County. McShirley, a Sulphur Springs business owner, anticipates that Henry County is on the cusp of becoming a “donut county” of Indianapolis, similar to the development happening in Fortville and Pendleton.

“I think we’re severely underestimating the changes that are coming to this county,” McShirley said. “Henry County is a pristine, ready-to-go development for what is coming out of the north-east side of Indy.”

McShirley fears that by inviting wind turbines to the area, with their mandatory setbacks, Henry County leaders could be walling the community off from future development.

The Henry County Council also heard a presentation about the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). The Indiana Division of Youth Services calls JDAI “a bipartisan movement for juvenile justice reinvestment – the reallocation of government resources away from mass incarceration and toward investment in youth, families, and communities.”

Chief Probation Officer Susan Lightfoot explained how her office is implementing new programs to help young people stay in their homes after having a run in with the law. By using smartphone apps and other initiatives, the county doesn’t have to lock teens away to know where they are and what they are doing.

Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David is the chair of the JDAI program. David made a rare trip to Henry County on the eve of Thanksgiving to thank the leaders of Henry County for embracing JDAI and helping young people.

“I will confess up front, I was not a fan of JDAI ... I was wrong,” David said. “I thought as a trial judge that it was ‘let’s release a bunch of kids that don’t need to be released.’ It’s nothing like that. It is putting the right kids in the right places for the right amount of times.”

David said JDAI is about criminal justice reform and it is “dramatically changing the landscape.” David also noted that Henry County has initiated a special veterans court to help prior service members connect with resources if they run afoul local law enforcement.

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