A group of Southwind Sierrans visited Greensburg, Kansas, in early October to participate in a tour of the area by Ruth Ann Wedel, Site Manager, Greensburg Greentown. Ruth Ann, shown in the first photo, is standing next to one of several giant “rain barrels,” at the new Kiowa County School, and explaining other green features to Ellie Skokan, trip leader, Tom Kneil, Bill Keltner, Christina Stephans, Yvonne Cather, Bruce Fuelling, Dorlan Bales, Kathryn Damiano, Donna Wygle and Don Skokan.
In addition to the school, the group also visited the new Kiowa County Memorial Hospital, the John Deere Dealership BTI-Greensburg, and the Silo Eco-Home. All of the new construction has taken place since the May, 2007, EF5 tornado which destroyed 90% of the existing homes and businesses. All of the buildings mentioned above are LEED Platinum certified, which is the highest rating for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
The John Deere Dealership has also built, with financing from USDA Rural Development and John Deere, a community wind farm of ten 1.25 MW wind turbines with a total capacity of 12.5 megawatts. According to a John Deere fact sheet, the Kansas Power Pool is purchasing energy from the project under a long-time power purchase agreement. John Deere Renewables is the owner and operator. They also have a 5 KW wind turbine located at their business, and have become the North American distributor for that particular model, Endurance, at dealerships throughout the United States. (See second photo)
We spent some time walking through the Kiowa County Memorial Hospital, which also has its own wind turbine, and is a state of the art green facility. It appears that Greensburg has, indeed, succeeded in reestablishing and improving on some very important infrastructure. What they obviously need now are more people and businesses to locate in their community. Hopefully, “the build it and they shall come” philosophy will prevail. They are to be commended for their determination to rebuild their community and, also, for having the vision to rebuild it green.
For more information on Greensburg, or to book a tour, call the GreenTown office at 620-723-2790. or visit www.greensburggreentown.org.
By Don Skokan