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Former Representative Lary Swoboda And The Kewaunee County Nuclear Power Plant

August 12, 2015

It is not every day that one opens The New York Times to the national section and sees Carlton, Wisconsin featured on over two-thirds of the page. Wednesday’s paper reported on the end of the Kewaunee County nuclear power plant.

Having worked for a number of years with State Representative Lary Swoboda, who represented the First Assembly District, I can almost see his eyes light up while wondering how many copies of the article he needed to Xerox so to send to interested constituents.  Though Swoboda passed away in 2012 there is no way not to recall the lighter moments of his personality.

Other than the general angst over property taxes there was no other single issue that created more meetings and promises regarding Kewaunee County than the ones coming as a result of the 900 acre power plant in that very rural northeastern community.

Over and over a car packed with Carlton town officials and perhaps a county leader would travel to Madison. In our legislative offices they would hang their coats and Swoboda would gather them for meetings with various state bureaucrats.

There was nothing that made Swoboda feel more like a player than when he assembled the group in his office around a large table and called in other legislators so they too could feel the needs of his constituents. Without doubt in each one of these gatherings one of those from Carlton would say they needed to be compensated for having something in their backyard that no one else wanted. They would often speak of the potential problems that might result from the plant as a way of underscoring why they needed to be treated better.

Over time there were tweaks made to the aid formula for the plant in Carlton but never did the results match the desires from the locals or the over-stated wishes of Swoboda. Always the politician, he never stopped promising to fight for their interests even though he knew the limitations that would not allow for success.

I never once thought from those meetings that anyone really cared that nuclear power was an answer to the energy woes of the nation. Instead it seemed the only purpose for the plant was to be an economic factor allowing more money from the state to land in the township coffers.  I am not in any way dismissing their needs for compensation but just always found their reasoning about the power plant to be very base.

In 2012 the announcement concerning the closing of the plant was made known. At the time I thought, and smiled again when reading the Times, that had Dominion, the plant owner, known how tenacious and even at times irksome the local legislator could be when a bee got in his hat they would have thrown their hands up and just kept it open.  After all Swoboda was a master then it came to calling a meeting about the needs of his people when it came to the power plant.

Now there will be a need to tax and spend for roads and town business in Carlton like the majority of other places around the state have been doing for decades.   But I bet somewhere Swoboda is looking up the phone number to call so to learn how he can attract start-up funds for new business ventures on abandoned power plant land.

I sense another meeting coming….

One Comment
  1. old baldy permalink
    August 13, 2015 10:21 AM

    I had to work with Lary, “One R” as he would remind us, a number of times on local matters in the late ’80’s and early 90’s. He was quite a character, frustrating at times, but usually had his constituents interests in the forefront. You can’t say that about the current crop of clowns..

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