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Citizens have their voices heard in WHI smart city presentation

Winslow leaders have been in conversations with World Homes Initiative (WHI) and its partner companies to bring manufacturing jobs, agricultural development, and new homes to the city built with technology-based infrastructure. Last week, the public was invited to participate in those conversations with two presentations and a panel discussion where audience questions were addressed.

The first presentation was given on Sept. 13 at the La Posada Hotel with over 50 people in attendance. During the presentation, World Homes Initiative President and Founder Charles Hedensten explained that the beginning phases of the WHI plan for Winslow is to build three manufacturing facilities, several hundred homes and create jobs. The group also plans to bring cutting edge technology to their projects and inject resources into the school district and municipal infrastructure.

Hedensten said, “I want to make sure that you know a smart city is not Big Brother, okay? A smart living city is one in which the community is self-sustaining. That includes implementing technologies and philosophies in manufacturing, education, housing, water, soil, food production and more.”

To make the transformation, WHI has partnered with many technology giants, construction and contracting professionals, engineers, designers and inventors.

The industry proposed by WHI includes facilities that will build homes, the Marshall Energy Generator and Tsunami products. These goods will then be shipped from Winslow around the country, creating a secure revenue stream.

According to information shared by Hedensten from Census.gov, Winslow has had 3,000 homes since 2010. He said, “There has been little to no change in that. The price points show that people are paying between $50,000 and $200,000. Currently, houses are selling for roughly $300,000 in Winslow. There are not enough homes, so that is a need for this city. We also took a look at household income. When we look at the median income, for a two-income household, it’s about $50,000 which is not where it should be. What we are proposing will bring high paying jobs of all skillsets to this town. We will be employing 500 or more people at $25 an hour or more which will allow them to buy homes. High quality homes that are built here in Winslow.”

He also spoke of the need to replace and upgrade most of Winslow’s infrastructure; not only water and sewage, but also other public utilities such as emergency services and health care facilities. “We will need to make sure the city can handle the influx of population as we fill these homes and these jobs.”

Winslow business owner Troy Armstrong spoke up and said, “I disagree with what you’re saying that Winslow will just dry up and blow away if we don’t do something now. We have a lot of hard-working people that are putting our life investments into the buildings here. We are this close to turning the page on it to be told that we are going to dry up. We are right on the cusp of Winslow becoming something. Why are we going to sit here and hand it all to some outside entity and praying they are going to make Winslow something.”

Winslow Mayor Roberta “Birdie” Cano replied. “We’re not handing anything over; we are working with them to see what can grow from this. They want to use the railroad, the airport and the interstate. That is the ask. Our location is ideal for the things that they are manufacturing to be distributed from Winslow which we could tap into that opportunity and that money. The more industry and things that we bring in, the more tax revenue that goes to our police and fire departments, our schools.”

Several other citizens came forward that morning with a lot of the same concerns. One of the most expressed concerns was funding.

Hedensten said, “We see the opportunity to take our skill sets and help a community. We have access to specialized financing that can grow industry. We are tied to the carbon initiative, ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance), the new standard of financials. The carbon credit initiative is going to tax every single business for their CO2 output and our technologies reduce that output to net zero or below, which has allowed us to spend the last 12 years setting up our funding with carbon credits so we can bring large scale funding to make this happen.”

Winslow resident Richard Larson brought up the need to make sure the landscaping for housing developments should be native plants that are sustainable and appropriate.

Michael Melendrez, a scientist of biology, physiology and chemistry addressed that concern and explained how his company, Soil Secrets, LLC is heading those studies. Not only is Melendrez interested in native plant life, but is also, as he explained, devoted to using molecular science and biomimicry for repairing or jump-starting healthy soil.

Cano added, “We have visited Michael’s nursery in Los Lunas (New Mexico) and have seen the things he does first-hand. I saw a Sequoia growing in the desert in New Mexico because of this technology. This will help our town too.”

Also during the first presentation, Winslow resident Dan Lutzick brought forth a question regarding Michael Marshall, a contributing partner to the WHI plan, and president of Marshall Energy, the technology WHI will employ for energy generation. In 1996, Marshall was convicted of fraud and larceny following an accusation he took $25,000 from an elderly man to patent an invention. Marshall was also accused of financial fraud in 2001 but was not convicted. Lutzick asked Hedensten why WHI would still be partnered with a convicted felon.

Hedensten replied, “What happened in 2001, is using investment dollars, he did transfer money inappropriately without proper notification. There was a hearing held around that and it was cleared, which is why there is only one news report on it. He did have to pay penance on that and has worked past that. However, the technology of Marshall Energy has been proven. There are over 1,500 of these machines in operation internationally. Germany, Finland, Netherlands and India have all been using the technology for about five years. He did make a mistake, as a lot of innovators do, they don’t really take part in the financial part. We do have two generators on the way here so you will be able to see the technology for yourself.”

During both presentations, Winslow citizens were concerned with the town becoming too populated which would lead, as they expressed to increased pressures on infrastructure such as roads, waste removal, public safety services and more.

Courtney Rogers, of Gen2 addressed the subject of waste. He said, “What Gen2 does is cleanly converts municipal solid waste, medical waste, organic waste, biomass, sewage, plastics and more into fuel.”

The company, based in Stockton, Calif., is also dedicated to making the process of converting waste into fuel clean using a process that creates zero emissions and uses no chemicals.

Hedensten added, “We have done extensive research and found that even though this could grow Winslow’s population, we are not interested in it growing beyond 33,000 people. We have seen studies that say after that number, more issues arise, and we are not trying to create more issues, we are trying to help solve the ones that are here.”

WHI has not entered in to contracts with the city either to build or purchase the necessary acreage for their projects. Cano said, “We, your council and I, have Winslow’s best interests at heart. We are still in these conversations with these experts because we want to know how its all going to work. I’m asking you to have an open mind and continue to ask your questions because we deserve it. Our kids and our grandchildren need to have something to come back to, to look forward to. We have been told for years that developers were going to come in and do something with our town, and those, for whatever reason, didn’t happen. That caused us trauma as a town, and now, we need to move forward. Because we deserve it.”

Full recordings of both presentations can be found at www.whynotwinslow.com in the coming days. Questions, comments and concerns can be directed to Winslow Economic Development Director Una Wirkebau at Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein!.


Autor(en)/Author(s): L. Parsons

Quelle/Source: The Tribune News, 21.09.2022

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