The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by: Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner
The Gladstone Board met in regular session March 9th at 6:00 p.m. with a packed house including two Henderson County Deputies, the Village Attorney, and all board members present except Mike Hopkins.
A deputy is now attending the meetings due to their heated and controversial nature since the big flood of 2008 last June.
Part of the controversy that divides board members and others is over flood bills which include payment for work which some felt was beyond reason, and which others felt needed paid since FEMA approved them and had sent the money.
Others whose bills had not been turned into FEMA were upset.
There have been ongoing problems with an unpaid water bill until it was recently paid and marked "under protest" by Happy Rock Wash owner/operators Matt Gray and Peter Rousonelous for costs the village said they incurred for hook-up of village water to its facility.
A second deputy was assigned to attend Monday night's meeting after Rouseonelous through his attorney W. K. Gullberg, Jr., and his law firm Gullberg & Box, filed a complaint of I count of Battery and I count of Assault against ten year veteran Gladstone Board Member James Hetrick.
The charges filed in Henderson County Circuit Clerk's office on Thursday, March 5, 2009 accuses Hetrick, after the board meeting February 23rd, of shoving Peter Rouseonelous "without cause or provocation by Peter" during discussion of a water bill that is partly owned by Peter (Happy Rock Wash).
The charges allege "that Peter was just trying to have a discussion with him" and that Hetrick "shoved him, and tried to push Peter out the door of the Community Building."
It also states he "hurled obscenities at Peter" and among other statements, accused Hetrick of saying "he wanted Peter and his Father out of town" and "Peter and his father were horrible for the town," and he says, Hetrick wanted to punch him.
In the Assault charge "Peter anticipated that Hetrick would make good on his threats and that he would be struck by Hetrick.
Wherefore Peter was requesting that the court enter a judgment against Hetrick "in excess of $50,000 as punitive damages for Defendant's outrageous conduct."
Also on March 5th, Peter, by way of his attorney W.R. Gullberg, Jr., filed a request, through the freedom of information act, for all records in the village's possession relating to the following:
1. A reasonably detailed and current list of the types and categories of records under your control.
2. The water ordinance for the Village of Gladstone and all amendments
3. The current sanitary sewer and storm sewer ordinances for the Village of Gladstone.
4. Lists or any other summary of all persons who have been issued, served, or mailed bills for the usage of water during the past 12 months from the date of this letter (March 5, 2009).
5. Lists, accounts, or any other document showing the payment of water bills for the usage of water during the past 12 months from the date of this letter.
6. Lists or any other summary of all persons or businesses who have received hook-up of water service during the past 10 years from the date of this letter.
7. Lists, accounts, or any other document showing charges for hook-up of water service to all persons and businesses during the past 10 years from the date of this letter.
8. Copies of original invoices for all water fittings, parts, lines, and components actually placed in the Village water line for the hook-up of water service to the business known as Happy Rock Wash or Happy Rock Wash LLC.
9. All records listing, accounting, and summarizing income and expense for the Village of Gladstone water fund account for the past 5 years. If the village does not have a separate water fund account, then provide the same records in whatever form they are kept.
10. A copy of all minutes and notes of meetings of the Village of Gladstone Water Committee or any individual or committee having actual charge, management, or operation of the water supply and distribution for the Village of Gladstone subordinate to the Board of Trustees, including minutes of executive session of any such individual or body for the past 10 years.
11. A copy of all minutes of meetings, including general, special, and executive session of the Gladstone Village Board, in which any action was taken to modify or amend the water ordinance for the Village of Gladstone for the past ten (10) years preceding the date of this letter.
12. A copy of all minutes of meetings, including general, special, and executive session of the Gladstone Village Board, in which any action or decision was taken or made to exempt any person or business from charges for water hook-up or charge for water usage from the Village of Gladstone for the past ten (10) years preceding the date of this letter.
13. A copy of all minutes of meetings, including general, special, and executive session of the Gladstone Village Board, in which any action or decision was taken or made to appoint any person or committee to have charge, management, or operation of the Village of Gladstone water supply or distribution during the past ten (10) years.
14. For each meeting in which minutes are provided in accordance with any part of this request, provide a copy of the agenda of said meeting and proof of posting and publishing notice of said agenda to the public.
15. If there are any fees for searching for or copying the requested materials, I authorize you to fill the request or supply the records at my expense, but not to exceed $200.00.
Attorney William K. Gullberg, Jr. Kirkwood, went on to say in his letter:
"If all or any part of this request is denied, please cite the specific exemptions which justify your refusal to release the information and inform me of any appeal procedure available under your ordinances or policies.
"I would appreciate your handling this request as quickly as possible, and I look forward in hearing from you within 7 working days, as the law stipulates."
W. K. Gullberg, Jr.'
Near the end of Monday night's meeting, the board returned out of closed session and unanimously agreed on a motion to request an extension, as allowed by law, for an additional 7 business days to gather the large amount of information.
Guests present were:
Kevin Shauman, Ron James, Kurt and Ursula McChesney, Nate Marston, Linda Marston, Tom and Gwen Morrison, Jack Weeks, Wendell Parsons, Frankie and Margaret Johnson, Richard Bigger, Jr., Joyce Meloan, Matt Ryerson, Christina Crippes, Rosalee Melvin, Dessa Rodeffer, Deputy Steve Henshaw, Deputy David Thompson, Jeremy DeWitt, Stacy DeWitt, Matt Gray, Wanda Fillman, Brady Smith, Brenda Smith, Peter Rousonelous, Gus Rousonelous, Wendy Schulze, Donnie Olson, and Stanley Torrance.
Ron James turned in a bill for the renewal on liability insurance which has gone down this year about $180 but will probably bounce back up after the audit comes through.
Brenda Smith said they are still registering use of 43,000 gallons at Grahams Tavern, and can't find a leak. When Donnie Olson shut the water off in the basement, the meter stopped and they found a problem in the men's bathroom which Brenda said, "we put all new in there and it is still showing 43,000 gallons."
"If we are using 43,000 gallons where is it at?" Brenda Smith asked. "It is not showing up anywhere."
Hetrick said if it is leaking on the ground and if it's on the other side of the meter, it is the home-owner's responsibility.
He didn't want to fight and argue over it. "I don't have any trouble going back to an average while Donnie Olson puts on a new meter to make sure it's running properly," Hetrick said.
Brenda said she wasn't fightin' and arguing, she just wanted to know where it is going? With that much water, it should be standing on the ground or our basement should be flooded, or something.
"Yes, with that much water, it should be coming up through the ground or something, Hetrick said, "I understand, but at the same time, you can ask Tom. A little over a year ago we lost 400 and some thousand gallons and we never found and we called the people over from Boone, Iowa and I don't know how much it cost the village.
Sebastian thought it was a little over 20 some hundred dollars.
It was right here in town, and you would think we could find 400 some thousand gallons but we couldn't, but we found the problem when he came in.
I would say do an average, and I'll get Donnie to put another meter and we'll try that and if it is going somewhere we need to figure out where.
Mayor told Brenda to keep paying the average bill and the village would look into and see.
Next was the Flood bills with Jim Hetrick and Stanley Torrance on the agenda. Torrrance was running late due to a meeting at the school, Kevin Shauman said, so Jim Hetrick spoke inquiring about clarification saying, he knew the board was pretty much divided.
"I know as we read the minutes, we heard where Andy Youngquist said for us "Not to pay the bills. That was for the month before. I talked to him Tuesday, that was after that special meeting, and he told me he still felt the same way, and I asked him why he didn't say anything if he felt that way. He told me that he had said that two or three times and he didn't think he needed to, again.
"At the same time, I had talked to Darlene and Darlene told me that Rex had told her that Andy said we should pay the pre-flood bills.
"So I guess I didn't hear you right Andy, or you told Rex something different or Rex told Darlene something different and I'm just trying to get out.....
Youngquist answered: "My position has been what its always been. If there is a bill in question, my advice is to not pay it. As to last month's meeting nobody asked me for my advice in last month's meeting. You are my clients, I work for you. It's not my job to pipe up and offer to involve myself in the board's discussion when the board does not ask me to be involved."
Hetrick said, "I understand what you said there, but I'll tell the rest of the board what I told him on the phone, that we're paying Andy Youngquist good money and if he sees that we are doing something wrong. If we know what he should tell us, then I don't think we would need an attorney."
Darlene Manes asked the attorney "How long do you feel we should sit there and just sit on it until these questions get resolved? It wasn't getting resolved."
Hetrick again asked Darlene if Rex told her that the attorney said to pay the bills.
But Youngquist replied that due to pending litigation he has stated repeatedly, "Don't pay the bills if you have a question about it. And that he had said it in every conversation he has had to board members, on the phone including the Mayor except for Florence, Junior, and Mike.
"I have not changed my position. I can't tell this board what to do. I don't know how many times I can say that."
Lundquist said he advised this board to specifically avoid invoices subject to pending litigation. "I can't do any more than that!."
"I don't know what Darlene told you. And I don't know what Rex told Darlene."
Darlene spoke up, "He could sit here until dooms day and tell me not to pay the bills. I thought it was time...
"Darlene," Hetrick interrupted, "Exactly what you told me was, "You're not going to believe what the attorney told Rex today.' And I said, No, what's that?"
Darlene interrupted: "I said, I had the understanding that we need to go ahead and...
Hetrick: "You're not going to listen Darlene.... I just thought this would be a real good time with all three of you here to find out.
Then Mayor McKinney interjected: "I guess my question is, were we wrong by paying the bills?" looking at Youngquist.
Youngquist: "I don't know what you mean by wrong, Rex. Was it illegal for you to pay the bills? No, it wasn't illegal. Was it ill advised? In my opinion it was ill advised. I've stated that. How many times have I stated that?
Rex said, "You told me that we could pay the bills.
Youngquist said, "Exactly, you could pay the bills. You could pay every single bill you have here if that's your choice.
"My advice was that you shouldn't. It would be ill advised. I continue to give that advise to the bills you haven't paid, specifically the bills that are subject to litigation."
Kevin Shauman and Stanley Torrance discussed why Torrrance's estimate hadn't been considered of $18,500 for clean-up of the levee system if they were looking for lowest costs. The Mayor said it was late now.
McKinney said he had talked to Curtis Caldwell in a 3-way conference call with a FEMA rep. and was told, if the village didn't hire them, FEMA was not paying for it.
"We got $54,000 in the bank where they paid Kurt to do it," Rex said.