Letter to the Editor: Questioning Kewaunee’s LWCC Leadership

For years it has been obvious to the public that an elected official and appointed chairman of the Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation Committee, John Pagel, has more to gain (or more to lose) over groundwater protection than the typical Kewaunee County dairy farmer. This is based on the simple fact that his operation is, conservatively, 70 times greater than the typical dairy farm. Recently it has become even clearer that Pagel has been working behind the scenes over multiple years using his elected position for his private gain.

The facts show that Pagel has been intimately involved in the planning for this mythical magical biogas digester idea for a number of months, if not years.

On Dec. 1, Pagel gave an interview to a Milwaukee public radio station during which he states, “We’ve been having meetings on this hub and spoke approach for a couple of years with the DNR and PSC.” When the reporter stated, “So you’re kinda in the thick of this,” Pagel responds “yeah.” He continued to indicate that he was knowledgeable of the exact status of the process and even indicates that he is involved in setting the direction that the state should take when selecting the specific site for the system when he says “we’re recommending they do it at one or two places” preferably where there is “a digester already in place.”

A recommendation to “do it at one or two places” where a digester is already in place would mean a better than 50/50 chance that the site selected would be owned by John Pagel as two of the four digesters in the county are at Pagel-owned operations.

I add to all of this the fact that in October of 2013, the county board approved a resolution initiating the process of awarding $4 million worth of revenue bonds to finance “a portion of the cost of acquiring, construction, improving, furnishing, installing and equipping certain solid-waste disposal components of (Pagel’s) commercial dairy facility.” All of this seems to show Pagel has a very vested interest in seeing this scheme to fruition.

This scheme is nothing more than political corruption – complete with this $20 million Trojan horse – paid for by taxpayers. There has been zero hard, scientific, evidence provided that such a method, at the scale needed in Kewaunee County, has actually helped groundwater quality – zero. There is much to be researched yet with Pagel in his leadership position, is the Land and Water Conservation committee really doing all they can to make sure all the science is being sought out and objectively assessed? Is the protection of all of our property values and quality of life taking a backseat to Pagel’s business interests?

Perhaps it’s time to contact Bob Weidner and ask him to remove Pagel as chairman of the LWCC.

Jodi Parins

Town of Lincoln, Wis.