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      Hog farm opponents turn in petition

      Callaway County commissioner Randy Kleindienst (facing camera) discusses the hog farm proposal with Jeff Jones after Jones handed him the petition signatures (in envelope).

      Opponents of a planned hog farm handed over nearly 1400 petition signatures to the Callaway County Commission Monday.

      Jeff Jones, a cattle farmer who heads the group Friends for Responsible Agriculture, personally gave the petition to commissioners Randy Kleindienst and Donald Kritzer at the Callaway County Courthouse. In all, Jones said the petition garnered 1,371 signatures.

      The petition follows more than a month of controversy over a hog confinement operation planned for a site just south of the Hatton exit on Interstate 70. The facility, which would house 10,000 sows and gilts, would be built by Wayland, Iowa-based Eichelberger Farms on land sold to that company by Darren Horstmeier.

      Jones' group first approached the Callaway County Commission earlier in July about passing a health ordinance that might modify the farm or a resolution to put the project on hold. Kleindienst told reporters he has been studying the proposal closely since then. He said water districts have no concerns about the waste the pigs would generate, and officials in the Wayland area had nothing negative to say about Eichelberger Farms. He said he understood Jones' concerns but wanted to be very careful not to enact legislation that would cause problems later. He said it is possible the commission may not have any authority to block the project.

      "In my opinion, once they have agreed with (the Department of Natural Resources) that they have fulfilled their permit qualifications, we don't have anything in place to stop them," he said.

      Kleindienst said the commission would likely decide what action it wants to take, if any, by the end of the month.