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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 »

Joyce Reskin, 99, Nashville
  Mother of Laurie Embry of Nashville

Alva L. Miller, 81, Columbus
  Father of Marsha Ott and Karen Kincer, both of Nineveh

Alice M. Stines, 81, Taylorsville
  Sister of Leon Thickstun and Joan Dewar, both of Nashville

  • November 1
    Annual chicken noodle dinner, craft bazaar at Christiansburg church
    4 to 7 p.m. Christiansburg United Methodist Church, 7372 S. Christianburg Road
  • November 1
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 1
    Annual craft, bake sale at Helmsburg church
    9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Brown County Community Church, 2370 Main St.
  • 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 3
    Nashville Redevelopment Commission
    4:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • November 4
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • November 4
    Government offices CLOSED
  • November 4
    Open 12-step meetings in New Bellsville area
    7 to 8 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • 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 6
    Gospel jam session
    6:30 p.m. Country Gospel Music Church, 5181 State Road 46 East, Gnaw Bone
  • November 6
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • November 6
    Salt Creek Trail Committee
    10 a.m. BC Parks & Rec. Office, 1001 Deer Run Lane
  • November 6
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees
    6:30 p.m. Helmsburg Elementary School, 5378 Helmsburg School Road
  • November 6
    Rotary Club
    7:15 a.m. Artists Colony Inn, 105 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 7
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • 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 8
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 8
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • November 11
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 11
    Government Offices CLOSED
  • 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
  • November 14
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • November 15
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 15
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • November 18
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 19
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • November 20
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • November 23
    Nashville Reserve Officers host chili cook-off
    10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nashville P.D., 200 Hawthorne Drive
  • December 13
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road