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Cornelius News

Commissioner plans to introduce ‘Wilson’ at Monday’s Town Board meeting

Commissioner Jim Duke (from 6 feet) with Wilson, appropriately masked

Jan. 27. By Dave Yochum. Is anybody listening? Based on the 3-2 vote in favor of a 199-foot cell tower just off Jetton Road, it doesn’t seem that way, according to Town Commissioner Jim Duke.

He was on the losing side of that vote along with Commissioner Denis Bilodeau, a half-dozen homeowners’ associations and 150-plus neighbors who signed a petition opposing the tower.

So, what’s a big Tom Hanks fan to do?

Duke says he will employ his own Wilson, just like in the movie “Castaway,” at the next board meeting so that maybe the three commissioners on the other side of the cell tower vote—Michael Miltich, Thurman Ross and Tricia Sisson—will listen.

“We have a habit of not listening to the people that elected us,” said Duke, a three-term commissioner and former president of The Peninsula Homeowners Association. (To read an open letter from private citizen Ron Kelley about local officials not listening, click here.)

“I would like Wilson to represent all voices as well as send a message that those voices need to be heard,” Duke said, explaining that the vote on the tower was the catalyst for the Wilson idea. Separately, the town’s legal counsel says the board can’t go back and reconsider the vote.

PARC funding, to start

Duke plans to start out by focusing Wilson’s attention on adequate funding for the PARC Dept., where issues like deferred maintenance are frustrating PARC board members. PARC Chair Scott Higgins has spoken out on the subject, and Duke says he supports him.

It’s unusual for sure, but Duke said he hopes his Wilson will be a symbol, not a lightning rod.

“I don’t plan to have Wilson endorse candidates,” Duke said.