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Novak declines to sign objection

County sends letter to wind farm oppoinent about confrontation with zoning official

Staff writer

The signature of commissioner Dianne Novak was conspicuously absent from a letter county commissioners sent to a wind farm opponent who angrily confronted the planning and zoning director Nov. 12.

Florence resident Tom Britain confronted Sharon Omstead while she was in a Florence convenience store with her child. Omstead said one of the things Britain told her is that he “would take care of her,” that his words were “not a threat,” and “it’s going to happen.”

Omstead reported the incident to the sheriff’s office, then sought a restraining order against Britain.

The letter from commissioners told Britain they were writing “regarding your interaction with a county employee, Sharon Omstead. … We wish to collectively, and in unified fashion, express our concerns and objections to the confrontational and combative interaction.

“It has come to our attention that you most recently, but also on prior occasions, confronted Ms. Omstead regarding issues you have with how she has carried out her duties.”

The letter said commissioners are opposed to “any type of accosting interaction when the employee is off duty and on personal time engaged in private activity.”

The letter tells Britain that the commission supports Omstead in seeking a restraining order against him.

Omstead said one court hearing has taken place and a second hearing will be held in January because Britain wants to hire a lawyer.

“I just want protection from harassment and stalking and want myself and my family to be safe,” Omstead said.

Asked why Novak did not sign the letter, commission chairman Jonah Gehring said he didn’t ask her.

“She voted against the letter,” Gehring said. “We didn’t need to go down that path, we had four to one, so I just left it be.”

Novak has been an unabashed opponent of ongoing development of a wind farm in the southern portion of the county by Expedition Wind, and has frequently spoken out against the wind farm.

Novak lost her bid for re-election when she was beaten nearly 3-1 by opponent Mike Beneke.

In the general election, Beneke’s opponent in the general election, David Mueller, edged him out.

Mueller will be seated on the commission, and Novak leave office, on Jan. 11.

Last modified Dec. 24, 2020

 

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