County files for injunction against Rutland

By Sarah Hawley -

POMEROY — The Meigs County Prosecutor has has filed a motion for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order on behalf of the Meigs County Commissioners against the Village of Rutland.

The motion, an affidavit and complaint for injunction were filed late Wednesday afternoon by Prosecutor James K. Stanley.

The motion asks for a preliminary injunction keeping the village or any of its agents from selling, transferring or otherwise conveying the property which is commonly referred to as the former bus garage located next to the Rutland Civic Center.

Stanley told the Sentinel that the sale of the property is scheduled to be closed on Thursday, prompting the filing of the request for the preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order.

According to the complaint, on or about April 26, 2012, the commissioners, through then-President Tom Anderson, and the Village of Rutland, through then-Mayor Lowell Vance, entered into a contract transferring all debts and assets from the Rutland Water and Sewer District to the newly formed Meigs County Water and Sewer District. The Meigs County Water and Sewer District is operated by the commissioners.

Among the property included in the transfer was to be the old bus garage property according to the court documents. The property was utilized by the village as a storage building for the water and sewer district, with it containing a backhoe, sewer tanks, grinder pumps, parts, fittings, pipe and other material for the water and sewer district.

The deed was never transferred by the village to the county, the filing states.

Despite the deed having not been transferred, when the transfer of debts and assets was completed in accordance with the approved contract, Vance provided the commissioners with the utility bills for the building. Those bills have continued to be paid by the commissioners.

The commissioners contend that they have ownership of the property in accordance with the approved contract from April 26, 2012, despite the deed having not been transferred.

While the village knew of the claim of ownership, the complaint states that the village intended to sell the property to a Dollar General or agents acting on behalf of Dollar General on Jan. 26, 2017.

The affidavit of support for the injunction from Commissioner Randy Smith states that when Smith appeared at the August 2016 Rutland Village Council meeting to address the rumors of the sale of property, the county learned that the village had emptied the building.

Smith provided copies of the contract, utility bills and correspondence to the village regarding the failure of the transfer. At the time, Rutland Mayor April Burke responded by stating that anything pertaining to the sale of the property was “just talk” according to the affidavit. Burke expressed gratitude to Smith for letting her know of the situation as they were unaware.

Also according to the affidavit, in December, Smith went to the village to retrieve water bill payments from the box located by the Civic Center and observed signage reportedly placed by the Rutland Chief of Police stating that trespassers would be prosecuted. Smith also noted the locks on the building had been changed. Smith was advised that he could not be placed on the December council agenda to further discuss that matter.

In taking on the debt and assets of the Rutland water and sewer district, the county assumed responsibility for more than $500,000 in debt which belonged to the village.

“That is why the assets associated with the water and sewer district are crucial,” the affidavit states.

The filing had not been ruled on by the court as of the close of business on Wednesday. A ruling could take place as early as Thursday morning.

By Sarah Hawley

Reach Sarah Hawleyat 740-992-2155 ext. 2555 or on Twitter @SarahHawleyNews

Reach Sarah Hawleyat 740-992-2155 ext. 2555 or on Twitter @SarahHawleyNews