The back page of Saturday’s Northfield News (A section) had this quarter page ethanol ad (click to enlarge) for Prairies to Power, with this by-line:
“A local coalition of YOUR NEIGHBORS who SUPPORT BRIDGEWATER’S ETHANOL PLANT.” (Upper case is not my doing.)
It then provided a link to the group’s website, where there’s only a graphic, with the byline, “WE SUPPORT THE ETHANOL INDUSTRY.”
Seems a little shadowy to me, especially when I did a WHOIS search on the domain name and see that the ownership of the domain is hidden, only traceable back to the web hosting company. Maybe the Northfield News could tell us who actually paid for the ad.
Update 7 am: I put my citizen journalism reporter hat on and phoned the number listed in the ad, 612-247-0569, thinking I’d get an answering machine at 6:45 am. But a real person answered the phone with, “Hello, Prairies to Power.” It was none other than Dave Fellon, president of Lakeville-based Progressive Rail, a company (an ESOP, like Foldcraft in Kenyon) that’s got a fairly long history of (attempted? still planned?) involvement with Northfield and its old train depot. They obviously have a financial interest in seeing the ethanol plant built, as railroad infrastructure will be a big part of it.
I chided Dave for not being more transparent with the ad and website (Progressive Rail paid for the ad), telling him that that approach is likely to raise more suspicions. I’m not sure he agreed — he didn’t disagree, anyway. I told him about our website and podcast, and asked if he’d come down to Northfield for an interview. He was quite willing, and also extended the offer of a train ride to Northfield from Lakeville. (I bet I could get Ross and Tracy to go if they could blow the train whistle a few times.)
Progressive Rail would be a key player in the future development of commuter rail here in Northfield, which coincidentally, Ross just blogged about on Friday.