By Patric Hedlund
ANTELOPE VALLEY, FAIRMONT, NEENACH, CA (Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012 at 8:30 p.m.)—The weather was beginning to take on a desert chill tonight in the Western Antelope Valley when executives for First Solar, Inc. and a liaison for Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich called for a warming of relations between the region’s town councils.
Norm Hickling, Supervisor Antonovich’s field liaison, cleared his throat, then called for a calm meeting in which the first rule would be "No Shouting." That established, he invited First Solar to present a proposal for a way to close the animosity gap between Neenach, Fairmont, Antelope Acres, Three Points and the Lakes Town Councils over the "community benefit" offers made by the company last June. "Community benefit" is a polite way to refer to cash gifts to surrounding communities that will suffer major impacts due to the 230 megawatt solar facility being built on about 2,100 acres near 170th Street West off of Highway 138.
The First Solar team also brought in some new players, vowing to be more forthcoming with information of concern to the communty. New project manager Larry Whittet was introduced. Senior Vice President Jim Lamon, international head of entineering, procurement and construction explained the recent layoffs of local workers and made projections about local hiring in the coming year.
About 25 people from First Solar, Fairmont, Oso and Antelope Acres town councils attended the meeting.
While Hickling’s "no shouting" rule was pretty well observed, there was some spicy language, a bit of colorful profanity and graphic airing of 2011’s grievances. Hickling, who said "I’m no poker player; I’m blunt; let’s get it all out there," achieved a general airing of ideas. Battle fatigue was evident on the part of several of the council members who attended, who are now beginning—hesitantly— to speak of ways to work together.
Read more about the "secret" event in The Mountain Enterprise newspaper January 27.
[The first version of this breaking news report has been updated here.]
This is part of the January 13, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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