Same fight, next round ...
One of two landowners who fought last summer over a practically non-existent county road south of Indianola continued the battle before Red Willow County commissioners Monday morning.
Stan Quigley, who owns land on the north side of Road 713 (named county road 221 in 1889), accused Phil Bamesberger, who owns the land on the south side of the road, of stealing his fence and destroying it. Maury Green of McCook, attorney for Stan Quigley, asked commissioners if Bamesberger had any authority to remove Quigley's fence and if they know where the fence posts and wire are now.
Commission Chairman Earl McNutt told Green that Bamesberger was recently in the process of resetting his fence according to a survey conducted last fall for the county, and that he gave Bamesberger permission to remove about .2 of a mile of Quigley's fence because it was "dead-smack" in the middle of the road, which also marks the north boundary of the land that Bamesberger purchased early in 2008. Bamesberger's removal of the fence would keep county crews from having to do the same thing, McNutt said.
Quigley said to McNutt, "He took my fence out and he stole it and destroyed it. Who's going to put my fence back in?"
McNutt said he assumed that Bamesberger would set the posts and wire aside. He did not tell Bamesberger to dispose of the fence, he said. McNutt told Quigley that a new fence would have to be measured from the middle of the new 66-foot right-of-way that commissioners created after hearing both sides of the argument throughout the summer last year. Commissioners told Quigley and Bamesberger in August 2008 that each would have to move his fence beyond the new right-of-way, and that the county's surveyor would survey the one-mile road and stake the new right-of-way at county tax payers' expense one time only. If the landowners waited too long to move existing/erect new fences and the stakes weathered or became lost, any subsequent surveys would have to be at the landowners' expense, commissioners emphasized in August.
The original old county road -- which is no more than a two-wheel path and has never been improved, abandoned/vacated, moved, or maintained on a regular basis since l889 -- would not be moved or closed, commissioners voted.
In August, Quigley declined to cooperate on a compromise that would have meant that no fence would have to be moved, and he would still have unlimited access to his farmland (not pastureland) on the north. Quigley rejected commissioner Leigh Hoyt's proposal that would have installed a cattle guard at the county's expense and a wide barbed-wire gate and posts at Bamesberger's expense.
Steve Quigley, Stan's son, told commissioners that he and his dad had not moved their fence yet. He said that he and his dad were upset when Steve discovered on Feb. 4 that a corner post of his dad's fence near the east end of the county road had been removed and that a three-strand barbed-wire fence that his dad had erected in 1954 had been taken out. Steve Quigley said he contacted McNutt, fellow commissioner Steve Downer and county attorney Paul Wood about the missing fence and then contacted the sheriff's office.
Steve Quigley told commissioners Monday morning that it appears the landowners and the commissioners are "not on the same page" and should be communicating better about what's going on with the fences. Steve Quigley asked why he and his father were not told that Bamesberger would be removing their fence. "We've gotta agree at some point to be neighbors," he said. It's frustrating, he said, that the three parties involved can't communicate. "We gotta get along," he said.
McNutt apologized for the miscommunication. He said that he hoped all involved would respect the difficult decision by the commissioners last summer to keep the road open and to order that all fences be removed as soon as possible. In a recent letter to Stan Quigley (recommended by the county attorney), McNutt suggested that the remainder of the Quigley fence be removed by April 1. McNutt said that a new fence that Bamesberger built on the existing road did not block the road; Quigley's old fence did.
McNutt stressed to the Quigleys that he wants to resolve this issue, "with the least amount of county money spent." The county will not pay to have another survey done or to survey another .10 of a mile east to the section line, he said. "It comes down to how much money you want the tax payers to spend on this (disagreement)," McNutt said.
Hoyt, visibly frustrated by the inability or unwillingness of parties involved to compromise or cooperate, asked the Quigleys," You want your wire and posts?"
Green told Hoyt and commissioners that they were at the meeting to determine what happened to the fence, and who gave Bamesberger permission to remove it, "not necessarily to make any demands."
Commissioners questioned the monetary value of fence posts and wire that are 55 years old and not maintained regularly.
Hoyt made a motion Monday to close the road, the action he wanted to take in August 2008, but was reminded by county clerk Pauletta Gerver that commissioners would have to go through a public hearing process again -- as it did last year -- to close the road.
Steve Quigley said he will contact McNutt about a time possibly this week to meet on site.
Commissioners tabled the issue indefinitely.
In other action:
* Commissioners met with courthouse maintenance supervisor Greg Holthus and county court clerk magistrate Kathy Jones to further discuss renovation possibilities in the county court offices and the hallway that connects them to the courtroom.
Holthus said that the wall between the elevator entrance and the courtroom -- in which the door from the center hallway to the courtroom would probably be relocated -- is not a weight-bearing wall, Holthus said. Any new doorways, McNutt reminded everyone, will have to be handicap accessibly.
McNutt said he has received comments about the proposed project from patrons, several of whom did not want to lose the Grecian-Doric architectural features and decorative painting in the courthouse hallway. He suggested using glass to enclose the top of the north archway over a proposed counter and roll-up security windows, thereby preserving patrons' view of the arched ceilings and vintage lighting fixture.
Holthus said the ceiling would remain as it is, even though a florescent light fixture would need to be installed. A fire horn and strobe light would have to be relocated into the center hallway, he said. Holthus said that while he's contacting electricians about new lighting options in the north hallway, he would like to investigate the possibility of improving the lighting in the main hallways as well.
"The bottom line is, there are changes that have to be made," McNutt said. "And nobody likes change."
Jones said she is pleased with the commissioners' reception of her and County Judge Anne Paine's staff's requests for improved security measures.
McNutt asked Jones, "Please be patient with us. We'll get there ... "