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Stellar committee did not violate Open Door Law
Updated on: 06.24.14

The Indiana public access counselor has ruled that the Nashville Stellar Communities committee did not violate the Open Door Law when it met several times early this spring without announcing its meetings to the public.

Luke Britt's advisory opinion says that the committee is not subject to the Open Door Law because it is not a governing body.

To be a governing body, the committee would have to have been appointed directly by a public agency that is subject to the Open Door Law -- such as the town council or county commissioners.

"The Stellar Committee appears to be borne out of volunteers from various community agencies and is not galvanized under one agency's particular banner," Britt writes. "Therefore, the Committee is not a delegation or sub-committee at all, but rather a community action group or an association of volunteers. These types of entities are not contemplated by the Open Door Law or the Access to Public Records Act."

He also notes that in a previous, unrelated opinion, he advised a majority of one governing body against attending another organization's meeting because that could be construed as a meeting of that governing body. "As the Committee could be discussing public business in their meetings, area public officials should be mindful of these considerations," he said.

The opinion, filed June 23, was a response to two formal complaints filed by attorney Wanda Jones against the Town of Nashville, the Nashville-Brown County Stellar Committee and the Nashville Town Council.

She alleged the groups violated the Open Door Law by not posting formal public notice of Stellar committee meetings in February, March and April.

Jones said people were denied access to an April 23 committee meeting at the County Office Building because the outside doors were locked. Area Plan Director David Woods said that was an accident. He had directed that the doors be locked before a contentious Board of Zoning Appeals meeting that evening because he'd heard people were planning to save spaces for people who supported their views in an attempt to sway the board's decision. He said he didn't know that a Stellar meeting was happening in the same room at 4 p.m.

The Stellar committee has posted all its meetings after May 27 as open to the public.

Jones also alleged that the town violated the Access to Public Records Act by directing inquiries from Jones' firm for certain records to the town's attorney, when requests from other people for the same records had been fulfilled by town employees.

Britt's opinion does not address this complaint directly, only saying that the Stellar committee is not a public agency.

-- Sara Clifford, Brown County Democrat

Obituaries
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Josephine Lee Cueto, 62, Morgantown
  Daughter of Priscilla Burgmeier of Nashville

Mary 'Jane' Kollman, 92, Nashville
  Mother of Janet (Tom) Gaskins of Nashville

Charlotte K. (Adkins) Wilson, 67, Franklin
  Former resident of Brown County

  • November 23
    Annual community-wide hymn sing planned
    6:30 p.m. Nashville Christian Church, 160 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 23
    Nashville Reserve Officers host chili cook-off
    10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nashville P.D., 200 Hawthorne Drive
  • November 25
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 25
    Open 12-step meetings in New Bellsville area
    6 to 7 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • November 26
    Go Club meeting Wednesday at coffee/tea shop
    3 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • November 26
    BC Sheriff's Merit Board
    4 p.m. Sheriff's Office, Law Enforcement Center, 55 State Road 46 East
  • November 28
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • November 29
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 29
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • December 2
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • December 3
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • December 4
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 12
    Widowed group plans Christmas party
    noon Salt Creek Golf Retreat, 2359 State Road 46 East
  • December 12
    BCSP Christmas bird count slated
    8 a.m. BCSP Nature Center, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • December 13
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road