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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 »

Jerry L. Robinette, 75, Shoals
  Stepfather of Jeanette Vandagrifft of Nineveh

John R. 'J.R.' Scott, 81, Nashville
  Husband of Rosemarie Scott of Nashville

Wilma “Jean” Findley Harmon, 92, Nashville
  

  • April 26
    County history center dedication slated
    2 p.m. Brown County History Center, 90 E. Gould
  • April 26
    Wildflower foray slated at historic site
    TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • April 26
    'McFarland, USA' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • April 26
    Morel Festival gospel service at music park
    10 a.m. Bill Monroe Music Park, 5163 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • April 26
    Southern gospel quartet at Gnaw Bone church
    9 a.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • April 26
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    Noon to 2 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • April 27
    BC Alcoholic Beverage Board
    11 a.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 28
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • April 28
    BC Convention & Visitors Bureau
    8:30 a.m. Brown County State Park, 1450 State Road 46 East (north entrance)
  • April 28
    BC Area Plan Commission
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 28
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • April 29
    BC Board of Zoning Appeals
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • April 29
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • April 29
    Lake Lemon Conservancy District Board
    6 p.m. Benton Township Senior Center, 7606 State Road 45, Unionville
  • April 29
    BC Sheriff's Merit Board
    4 p.m. Sheriff's Office, Law Enforcement Center, 55 State Road 46 East
  • April 30
    Go Club at the library
    4 to 6 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 30
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • April 30
    Gospel jam & sing at Gnaw Bone church
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • May 1
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • May 1
    Antique tractor, engine and machinery show at the fairgrounds
    7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Brown County 4-H fairgrounds
  • May 1
    'Back to the Future' at the Playhouse
    7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • May 2
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • May 2
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • May 2
    Morel Mushroom sale & festival at state park Nature Center
    10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1450 State Road 46 East (north entrance)
  • May 2
    Antique tractor, engine and machinery show at the fairgrounds
    7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Brown County 4-H fairgrounds
  • May 2
    Spring Blossom Festival dance planned
    6 to 10 p.m. The Seasons Lodge, 560 State Road 46 East
  • May 2
    Spring Blossom Parade and food drive downtown
    11 a.m. downtown Nashville
  • May 3
    Read to a dog at the library
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 3
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    Noon to 2 p.m. Brown County State Park, State Road 46 East
  • May 3
    'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' at the Playhouse
    4 p.m., 7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • May 3
    Antique tractor, engine and machinery show at the fairgrounds
    7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Brown County 4-H fairgrounds
  • May 5
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • May 5
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • May 6
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • May 7
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 7
    Quartet featured with gospel jam & sing at Gnaw Bone church
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • May 7
    BC photography club
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • May 8
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • May 9
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • May 9
    Open house conducted at New Song
    9 to 11 a.m. New Song Mission, 7202 Keith Donaldson Road, Freetown
  • May 11
    BC Election Board
    2 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • May 13
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • May 14
    Local Coordinating Council
    8 a.m. Comm. Corrections Office, Suite B, lower level of Veterans Hall, 902 Deer Run Lane,
  • May 16
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • May 16
    Rock & mineral club
    6 p.m. Extension Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • May 16
    Historic site hosts outdoor art contest
    7 a.m. to 4 p.m. TC Steele State Historic Site, 4220 T.C. Steele Road, Belmont
  • June 20
    Pollinator Awareness Day at state park Nature Center
    9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Brown County State Park, 1450 State Road 46 East (north entrance)