Sewer questions go unasked, focus shifted to Independent story

by Dennis Sharkey

Construction crews for the citywide sewer project have rolled out of Oskaloosa with the project complete but several questions still are left unanswered and controversy is swirling.

Last Thursday night engineers and contractors for the project left the city council meeting without being asked to address several questions that were raised at the last meeting March 17 and for the last several months going back to last July.

Instead, City Councilman Allen Wise and City Attorney Mike Hayes turned the attention toward The Independent and this reporter.

Land owner Jerry Robbins attended last week’s meeting because he was seeking answers to why some councilmen and Mayor Mike Boyd made accusations about him and some of his claims.

Robbins was upset about a story that appeared in the March 24 edition of The Independent about the meeting on March 17 when the council addressed a bill that had been presented to the council earlier this year by Robbins.

Robbins presented the bill for more than $2,600 to the city for water usage and hay that had to be purchased between June and October of last year for cattle that he could not let out to one of his pastures because construction crews had taken down a fence. In addition, Robbins was seeking compensation for some walnut tree logs that he claims were taken off an easement that the city obtained from him for the project.

At the March 17 meeting, where Robbins was not present, the council voted to pay $1,100 of the bill but not without a lengthy discussion about the merit of the bill.

Robbins passed out a photo copy of the story with highlights of comments made during the meeting.

“You guys bashed me pretty good two weeks ago so I’m here to bash back,” Robbins began his statements with. “I want some truth to come out of this tonight rather than just your personal opinions.”

Robbins began questioning Boyd about some comments he made in reference to a fence the city built. Boyd said Robbins was responsible for half of the fence when the city agreed to buy some land from Robbins in 2009. A couple of weeks later, Robbins says he sold the land next to the city’s to Brad Griffitts.

Robbins claimed that when the agreement was made he told the city that standard fence laws were in place and that he didn’t agree to build a fence. Robbins later claimed that Griffitts knew of “the arrangement with the city.”

Furthermore, Robbins claimed that he wasn’t responsible because he was not the landowner.

“To bash me in the paper about building the fence for me, that’s a lie,” Robbins said. “You can shake your head if you want. You can’t just go spouting off your mouth about something that didn’t happen.”

Boyd disagreed with Robbins and said they had an agreement.

Robbins then addressed comments made by Wise during the March 17 meeting about the timing of Robbins’ claims. During that meeting Wise said, “It went on from June through October and I don’t get a bill for anything until Feb. 17 of the following year,” Wise said. “If I had to buy hay I would have been at a council meeting waving my hand saying ‘What’s going on here.’ That never happened.”

Robbins said he tried to communicate with construction crews to no avail.

“I tried to find out all summer long how long this was going to take,” Robbins claimed. “I wasn’t given any answer.

“I’m not going to bring a bill in June when there’s a dozer in my pasture,” he added.

However, Wise claimed while speaking to Robbins that he didn’t make those comments.

“Jerry, I’m going to tell you what I think about what you read in the paper,” Wise said. “I won’t be held accountable for what the print is in the newspaper.

“What I will tell you in that conversation that was had, the gist of it was we need to work with Jerry,” he went on to say. “I don’t care what it said in the paper.”

Wise was asked to clarify his comments later on and to point out which statements were false that were attributed to him.

Wise refused to comment only saying, “I’m not going to get into a pissing match with you.”

Hayes decided to add his opinion unsolicited, opening with a round of insults before blaming this reporter for “stirring up the county” for a story that appeared in the March 31 edition. Hayes did not clarify which story other than to say it was county related.

“You might ask the newspaper boy to let you listen to his tape because he seemed to make the same mistake in this week’s paper for the county as well,” Hayes said. “Evidently he doesn’t listen to his tapes so I don’t know why he brings his tape recorder.

“Why don’t you do fair journalism,” Hayes went on to say. “That’s the reason you get people in the community stirred up.”

Boyd told Robbins that he takes full responsibility for all the comments attributed to him in the story. No one else present disputed any other part of the story.

Robbins also wanted to know about some comment Boyd had made about him holding the city hostage and that he receives special treatment.

“I want to know how there is this opinion that there is this special relationship between me and the city that I’m getting my back scratched by the city?” he asked. “I want to know how that comment got put into the paper because it was a direct quote.”

“My comment toward you about that was over the fence and basically another obligation that we’ve already taken care of on your property,” Boyd responded.

Robbins said the city was not doing him any favors because it was an obligation.

“I don’t know how far the obligation of the city would go to be able to comment on that,” Boyd said.

Robbins said he has been nothing but a friend to the city and has let City Superintendent Bill Heard on his property anytime the city needed. Furthermore, he said the city never paid him for a pile of sludge that was left on his land and never taken care of.

Robbins also accused the city of encroaching upon his property by extending construction more than 125 feet past the easement boundary.

“If you think I’m going to give you a big ole easement to go back on my land, you’ve done screwed yourself out of that,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been walked on in the paper and at several meetings.”

Clarification: The Fence referred to in the March 24 story that was taken down was put up by a private contractor. The other fence that Boyd was referring to was another fence that was built by the city to keep out livestock.

Short URL: http://www.jeffcountynews.com/?p=7177

Posted by on Apr 18 2011. Filed under Government, Municipalities, Oskaloosa. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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