|Farnham rebuts road money stealing allegations
|Posted: Monday, November 10, 2008 4:54 pm
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Nov. 10, 2008) — Road issues are a perennial problem for the Pulaski County Commission, but at Monday’s meeting, Commissioner Bill Farnham said he wasn’t happy that details of a closed-session discussion of road matters had been leaked to the news media and discussed on various community websites.
Commissioner Billl Farnham argues that he's been falsely accused of theft of county funds for private road projects
“I wanted to get it all out in the open because half-truths are being told on the websites,” Farnham said.
The issues involve Laurie Lane in Rockwood Estates near St. Robert, which Farnham said had deteriorated into such bad condition that it posed a public safety hazard. Farnham sent his road crews to repair the road and was later criticized for his actions by various county employees from the road and bridge department who brought their union representative to meet in closed session with the commissioners, Prosecutor Deborah Hooper, and Eastern District Road Supervisor Stan Crismon.
The state patrol has also begun an investigation of the matter, Farnham said during Monday’s meeting.
Farnham invited former Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner Tony Crismon and the affected land developer, Charlie Bassett, to Monday’s meeting.
Tony Crismon and Stan Crismon are not related.
“Apparently we can’t hold stuff in closed session without it getting out of the building. I will say the highway patrol has come and talked to me and talked to Stan Crismon,” Farnham said. “I wanted that to be a part of the record. The prosecuting attorney was told these folks would be here and she’d get a copy of our minutes.”
Farnham said he wasn’t happy with the allegations being made against him.
“It should be a county road, I spent county funds on it, I got accused of stealing county funds and it never should have gotten this far,” Farnham said. “With this getting out to the websites and a whisper campaign or whatever going on, I want this out in the open.”
Farnham read a Sept. 29, 2005 document stating that Charlie Bassett was planning to turn the roads over to the county and noted that the document was signed by all three commissioners at the time.
“Mr. Bassett had approached us on the county commission and wanted us to take it on as a county road,” Farnham said. “Some of the gossip on some of the local news media sites had said I did it for a good buddy. Mr. Bassett, have I been coming over to your house for coffee? And you about you, Tony? Would you say I’ve been buddy-buddy with you?”
Both Bassett and Tony Crismon denied they had been “buddy-buddy” with Farnham, but agreed that they thought the road in question had been accepted as a county road.
“I thought it was a done issue and I drove away from it because I had done everything I was asked to do,” Bassett said. “Apparently the final paperwork had never been done to accept it as a county road.”
Tony Crismon said he was also surprised the problem had come up and said Bassett had agreed to make various improvements that had been requested by the county.
“All of us went out and looked at it,” Crismon said. “I went down and looked at it and it looked good to me, and as far as I knew it was a county road.”
Farnham proposed a motion on Monday to accept the disputed portion of Laurie Lane but then withdrew his motion after additional issues were brought up by Bassett, who said another person had bought the land from him and some re-platting had been done since he sold the land.
In other road issues:
• Farnham and Stan Crismon reported that the Jones Creek Bridge repairs will be more extensive than had been expected and more concrete will have to be poured on the bridge deck.
“It’s in a lot worse shape than we thought it was,” Crismon said, estimating that repairs will take about two more weeks without rain, but will be longer if rain hits.
“They got the big culvert in last week, I was down there,” Farnham said. “I’m not going to guess (when the work will be done) because I don’t know what the weather will do.”
Ransdall said the county has heard positive news from the Missouri Department of Conservation regarding bridge repair assistance since there’s a conservation area close to the bridge.
“We did hear back from conservation and they will bring in rock and place it at no cost to the county,” Ransdall said.
• Isaac Dubose, a resident of Harvey Lane, asked commissioners when his own road will be repaired.
“I haven’t run your road for about a month so I don’t know what kind of shape it’s in,” Farnham said.
Farnham asked what road workers had told Dubose, noting that the county had been without a backhoe for about three weeks. Farnham said a new road worker has been hired and assigned to the Harvey Lane area.
“He said, ‘We’ll get to it when we can,’” Dubose said.
Ransdall said he’d like to see additional work considered while a backhoe is in the Harvey Lane area.
“While they’ve got the backhoe out there, it would be the time to clean out the culverts or do anything else that’s needed,” Ransdall said.