Property owner calls sand company proposal "hush money" - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Property owner calls sand company proposal "hush money" -- Company responds


Dunn County (WQOW) - A Dunn County landowner is speaking out about an agreement a Texas sand company asked her to sign.  If she agreed to support the company's project, she says she would've received almost $38,000.

"It's hush money and in my opinion, it's undermining the whole democratic process.  They're buying votes.  They're buying our votes for us to go in and say we like them, because they have to have the landowners agree to have them in here.  So they're buying people and they're dividing our community," said Lisa Pelnar from the Town of Menomonie.

The cooperation agreement that was drawn up for Pelnar looks like an official document between Vista Sand and property owners.  Pelnar says the project, which would be a sand transfer facility, would not be on her land, but she was still asked to publicly support it.  "They said they would give me tax-free cash if I signed the agreement and then promoted them at the town and county level... to say we wanted them here.  I know that three so far have signed and one has speculated that they have actually upped their offer considerably to almost 100% of the value of the house," said Pelnar.

WQOW News 18 asked Vista Sand about the motivation behind the agreements.  "We wanted to make sure that we honored the property values and make sure there wasn't a decline or negative effect from us coming and being neighbors," said R.J. Sikes from Vista Sand.  "We've never done this before.  This is our first shot at this.  Second, those agreements are confidential, we did what was requested and we're not really going to comment any more on that," said Sikes.

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