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County council meeting erupts into arguments
Updated on: 01.27.14

The Jan. 21 Brown County Council meeting started with arguments and allegations of lies. At one point, police showed up.

It ended with some county officials apologizing to each other.

Councilman Jerry Pittman launched a discussion about a topic not on the meeting agenda. He claimed that in December, the county commissioners invalidated the council’s one appointment to the Brown County Area Plan Commission -- Peggy Thompson -- by improperly scheduling her for a new, four-year term. He said that move will render Thompson invalid to serve on the APC and the Brown County Board of Zoning Appeals for three years starting in 2015.

Thompson is a BZA member by appointment from the APC. If Pittman is correct, Thompson continuing to serve on the APC and BZA after 2014 could jeopardize decisions those boards make.

County council President David Critser said the staggering of terms, which the commissioners did to bring Brown County into compliance with state law, was correct, according to County Attorney Barnes and Thornburg.

That triggered a statement by Pittman about his lack of confidence in the firm's legal advice. The county paid the Indianapolis firm $100,000 over 10 months in 2013, including rates as high as $550 per hour.

“Which opinion would you care to take? The one they have on Monday or the one they have on Thursday?” Pittman said, referring to advice given to the county redevelopment commission. Pittman is also a member of that board.

Pittman and redevelopment commission members Evan Werling and Larry Ness distributed a report containing emails from County Attorney Chris Jeter that show changes to advice he gave the county about which governmental boards make APC and BZA appointments.

Brown County Commissioners President John Kennard tried to explain that the changes in legal opinion resulted from the law firm receiving information from Brown County piecemeal. It was not until Jeter met with APC and BZA attorney David Schilling that the matter became clear.

Kennard said there is no conspiracy or cover-up as Pittman, Werling and Ness suggested.

Kennard also said that the commissioners resetting the board members' terms was the correct action.

When Kennard denied an allegation from Pittman about not returning phone calls, text messages and emails from Werling, Werling showed Kennard his cell phone containing no responses for nearly two months. Kennard and Werling yelled at each other, with Kennard saying he called Werling twice and did not hear back from him.

Werling then bet Kennard $500 that he did not know the state law under which Brown County operates.

“I don’t know the specific law,” said Kennard, who said he relies on attorneys to provide that information.

Werling took offense to Kennard stating that he made errors while researching the APC and BZA laws. “No, this was not my mistake. This is a Barnes and Thornburg mistake, and you know it,” Werling said.

Pittman then upset Kennard by insinuating that the county commissioners illegally made decisions about the APC and BZA situation during a Dec. 3 closed-door meeting with their attorney in Indianapolis.

Critser said the matter had been resolved and it was time for the county to move on, but Ness disagreed.

“We ought to be unique where we ought to be, and that’s in the beauty of this county and its people. And we’re stupid if we think we want to be unique with respect to a law that can’t be understood by those who are intended to oversee it,” Ness said.

After several minutes of Ness talking about how embarrassed he was of the county council, Critser pounded the gavel repeatedly before saying, “I’ve heard enough.”

Critser later apologized to Ness, who did the same.

Before the meeting, Pittman reportedly told Critser he wanted off the redevelopment commission. The council replaced him with Councilman Steve Gore.

Werling and Ness were appointed to the county redevelopment commission by the county commissioners. They are considered “at-will” appointments, which means the commissioners can replace them at any time.

Obituaries
See Full List »

Dale Clinton 'Mike' David, 90, Nashville
  Father of Dennis P. David and Mark A. David, both of Nashville

Barbara Ann Frank Sheehan, 71, New Smyrna Beach, Florida
  Former resident of Brown County

Phillip Michael 'Mike' Mathis, 63, Nashville
  Brother of Cathy (Steve) Junken and Melanie (Darian) McBride, both of Nashville

  • August 4
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 4
    Brown County Council
    2 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • August 4
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • August 4
    Time for inner peace set at local church
    5:30 to 7 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • August 5
    Brown County for Bernie meeting
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 6
    Nashville Town Council
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • August 6
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 6
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees
    6:30 p.m. BC Intermediate School, 260 School House Lane
  • August 6
    'Jurassic World' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 7
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • August 7
    'Ghostbusters' at the Playhouse
    7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 7
    'Jurassic World' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 7
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 8
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 8
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • August 8
    Tribute to John Denver at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 8
    Live music at winery
    7 to 10 p.m. Chateau Thomas Winery, Coachlight Square, 225 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 8
    Donations accepted for Habitat garage sale
    9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Brown County 4-H fairgrounds
  • August 9
    'Jurassic World' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 10
    Beeline beekeepers club
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 11
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • August 11
    Time for inner peace set at local church
    5:30 to 7 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • August 12
    BC Local Emergency Planning Committee
    9 a.m. EMS Building, 53 State Road 46 East
  • August 12
    Blood drive scheduled at Parkview church
    2 to 7 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • August 12
    BC Emergency Management Advisory Council
    8 a.m. EMS Building, 53 State Road 46 East
  • August 13
    BC photography club
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 15
    Rock & mineral club
    6 p.m. Extension Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • August 15
    TRIAD annual picnic at Parkview church
    11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • August 15
    Kingdom fest at Nashville church
    1 to 4 p.m. Nashville United Methodist Church, 36 S. Jefferson St.
  • August 18
    Time for inner peace set at local church
    5:30 to 7 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • August 23
    Live Baby Boomer music at tavern
    7 to 9 p.m. Pine Room, 51 E. Chestnut St.
  • August 24
    American history DVD set to air at library
    1 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 24
    American history DVD set to air at library
    1 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 6
    Read to dogs at the library
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 18
    BucCornEar Festival fundraiser returns
    4 to 8 p.m. JTFD, 4831 Helmsburg Road, Helmsburg
  • September 19
    BucCornEar Festival fundraiser returns
    8 a.m. to 8 p.m. JTFD, 4831 Helmsburg Road, Helmsburg