Nobody covers Brown County like The Democrat Buy PDF| Advertise| Contact Us
Hoosier Harvest Cookbook
 
Latest News
 
Public access counselor reverses decision on Stellar UPDATED 6:45 p.m. Thursday
Updated on: 07.10.14

The Nashville-Brown County Stellar Communties committee is a governing body and is subject to all the provisions of the Open Door Law, Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt said late this afternoon -- a reversal of his earlier opinion.

"Additional evidence has come to light which suggests my initial conclusion may have been erroneous," Britt wrote. "My determination was based on the town's assertion the committee was exclusive(ly) comprised of volunteers and they were not appointed in any manner by the presiding officer of a governing body. In short, they were not operating as a delegation or sub-committee of another public agency. They were simply an association of concerned citizens, even though many of its members happened to be public officials."

Britt's first opinion, issued June 23, was based on a complaint filed by attorney Wanda Jones, representing a group that wants to delay Nashville's Stellar application until more public input and study can be put into the projects.

On July 1, Jones filed a 27-page response to Britt's initial ruling, arguing that committee members were acting in their capacity as town and county officials and that the non-officials on the committee were "chosen" by Nashville Town Council President Bob Kirlin. She said the committee performed the functions of a governing body, including making recommendations and decisions on what projects the Stellar proposal would include.

In today's opinion, Britt agrees: "It is explicitly stated the town and county has 'chosen' the Stellar Community committee," he writes, about the town and county's Stellar letter of intent. "This indicates the committee was not formed organically by a group of volunteers as was suggested in the town's response to formal complaint 14-FC-109."

The local Stellar committee is "exercising an executive function of local government and taking official action of public business." he concludes. Therefore, it is subject to the Open Door Law which requires all meetings to be open to the public "in order that the people may be fully informed."

The second half of Jones' complaint centered on public records requests which she said were either unfulfilled, were only fulfilled by being directed to the town attorney and not through normal channels, or were fulfilled in a way that wasn't easily accessible.

Britt said the Access to Public Records Act does not prohibit the town from designating someone to fulfill records requests, and given the "history of contention between you (or your clients) and the town, it is not unreasonable to ask you to direct your requests to the town's attorney." But he also notes that "the technology used should not be so complicated to the point of being challenging to use," referring to Jones' complaints about being directed to a password-protected email account and a thumb drive to access requested documents. Some were later delivered to Jones' office.

Britt said Jones and her clients, the Concerned Citizens of Brown County, are entitled to at least one copy of each record they seek -- and that could be electronic, as long as the copy is "viable."

Impact on Friday's presentation

The state Stellar committee is scheduled to visit Nashville from about 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, starting and ending at Out of the Ordinary restaurant.

Concerned Citizens of Brown County said they were not allowed inside that gathering. They planned to show their nonsupport of this year's Stellar application outside the restaurant.

Britt's opinion, however, says that the Stellar committee is a public body required to open its meetings to the public.

Neither Kirlin nor Town Attorney James T. Roberts could be reached for comment Thursday evening.

Read Britt's ruling by clicking here.

Obituaries
See Full List »

Karen J. Wampler, 78, Columbus
  Sister of Rod Sanburn of Nashville

Tommie Barger, 72, Morgantown
  Father of Edward Barger of Morgantown

Maurice Wayne Pelley Sr., 83, Gosport
  Father of Shirley Ackerman (husband, Jim) of Nashville

  • July 27
    American history DVD set to air at library
    1 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • July 28
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • July 28
    Open 12-step meeting in New Bellsville area
    8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • July 28
    BC Area Plan Commission
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • July 28
    Time for inner peace set at local church
    5:30 to 7 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 State Road 46 East
  • July 29
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • July 29
    Environmental workshop set at library
    9 a.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • July 29
    Rotary Club food booth at county fair
  • July 29
    BC Sheriff's Merit Board meeting CANCELED
  • July 30
    Go Club at the library
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • July 30
    Gospel jam & sing in Gnaw Bone
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Church, 5181 State Road 46 East
  • July 30
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • July 30
    Rotary Club food booth at county fair
  • July 31
    Farmers market in Bean Blossom July 31
    4 to 7 p.m. St. David's Episcopal Church, 11 State Road 45 at 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • July 31
    Bingo
    5 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • July 31
    Live dulcimer music at history center
    2 to 4 p.m. Brown County History Center, 90 E. Gould
  • July 31
    Fingerstyle guitar festival spans three days
    7 p.m. to Pine Room, 51 E. Chestnut St.
  • August 1
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • August 1
    Free clothes, supplies for students Aug. 1 at intermediate school
    9 a.m to 1 p.m. BC Intermediate School, 260 School House Lane
  • August 1
    Acoustic guitar festival hosted at Playhouse
    11 to 4 p.m., 7:30 to 10 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • August 2
    Read to dogs at the library
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • August 2
    CSVFD serves pancake breakfast
    7:30 to 11:30 a.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • August 2
    Guitar and performance workshops planned
    10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Brown County Inn, 51 State Road 46 East
  • August 2
    Read to a dog at the library
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • 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 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 7
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • August 8
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • 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
    Blood drive scheduled at Parkview church
    2 to 7 p.m. Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 1750 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 24
    American history DVD set to air at library
    1 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane