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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 »

Barbara Frances Martin, 87, Seymour
  Brown County native

James Roger Hoskins, 80, Sebring, Florida
  Former resident of Nashville

George Wallace Gould III, 86, Nashville
  Husband of Sharon Jungclaus-Gould

  • October 21
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • October 21
    Nashville Redevelopment Commission
    4 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • October 21
    CSCD Board of Directors
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • October 21
    B.C. Convention & Visitors Bureau
    8:30 a.m. Seasons Lodge, 560 State Road 46 East
  • October 21
    Open 12-step meetings in New Bellsville area
    7 to 8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • October 21
    Nashville Development Review Commission
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • October 22
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • October 22
    Peaceful Valley Heritage meeting
    6:30 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 22
    BC Parks & Rec. Board
    5:15 p.m. BC Parks & Rec. Office, 1001 Deer Run Lane
  • October 23
    Go Club at the library
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 23
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • October 23
    Nashville Town Council
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • October 23
    Salt Creek Trail Committee
    10 a.m. BC Parks & Rec. Office, 1001 Deer Run Lane
  • October 23
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees
    5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. Brown County Intermediate School, 260 Schoolhouse Lane
  • October 24
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • October 24
    YMCA pumpkin-carving contest
    before 6 p.m. YMCA, 105 Willow St.
  • October 24
    Deadline for Mini 4-H fall party
    Extension Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • October 24
    Bean Blossom farmers market Friday
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, State roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • October 24
    An Evening With the Artists planned at local gallery
    6 to 8:30 p.m. Brown County Art Gallery, 1 Artist Drive
  • October 24
    Murder mystery offered at T.C. Steele
    7:30 p.m. T.C. Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • October 25
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • October 25
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • October 25
    Shriners to host trap, still board shoots
    9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 6088 State Road 46 East
  • October 25
    Old-fashioned Halloween Fest
    6:30 to 8 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, state roads 135 North and 45, Bean Blossom
  • October 25
    Free medical, dental and eye care offered
    8 a.m. to 1 p.m. YMCA, 105 Willow St.
  • October 25
    BCSP Halloween activities
    5 to 6 p.m., 8 to 10 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • October 25
    Live dinner show at dance barn
    6:30 p.m., 8 p.m. Mike's Dance Barn, 2277 State Road 46 West
  • October 26
    Storytellers to compete in Tall Tale Tell Off
    1 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 28
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • October 28
    BC Area Plan Commission
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • October 28
    BC Area Plan Commission
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • October 29
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • October 29
    BC Board of Zoning Appeals
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • October 30
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • October 30
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 30
    9th District candidate to meet public
    7 to 8:30 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 31
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • October 31
    Trick-or-Treat hours set for Nashville
    6 to 9 p.m. Nashville
  • October 31
    Deadline to RSVP for Brown County/Purdue Extension dinner meeting
  • November 1
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 1
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • November 1
    Annual bazaar, quilt raffle, bake sale, bean dinner
    10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Goshen Community Church, 2798 Gatesville Road, Bean Blossom
  • November 4
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • November 5
    Woodworkers club
    7 p.m. Charlie Roush's Shop, 6987 Christianberg Road
  • November 5
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • November 8
    Second Saturday Village Art Walk
    5 to 8 p.m. Downtown Nashville
  • November 8
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • November 12
    Mandatory scholarship meeting at the high school
    6:30 p.m. Brown County High School, 235 School House Lane
  • November 12
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • November 13
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 13
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road