2007-06-30 / Editorials & Letters

Kirkersville mayor involved in rehab program complaint

Editor:

A couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call about a meeting taking place that afternoon that I might be interested in. Sure enough, I was interested! The meeting was being held by Licking County's Community Development Advisory Commission (CDAC) and they were addressing a complaint about rehab work done by the Planning Commission's Rehab program. The program is funded with state and federal taxes.

For those of you who don't know, Kirkersville Mayor Bennie (Jim) Evans works for the Planning Commission as the rehab program inspector. The work in question had been performed by Bennie (Jim) Evans' son-in-law, Steve Piatt (who is also a Kirkersville Council member) through a construction company that is formerly owned by Bennie Evans, but is now owned by his daughter. The work is then inspected by Bennie (Jim) Evans! Do you see a conflicthere?!

The complainant, a handicapped woman, had a rehab program contract with Piatt that began in September, 2005. This woman claimed that some of the work was still not finished although ALL of the money had been paid to Mr. Piatt. She said that Licking County Planning Commission director Jerry Brems told her that he mistakenly allowed Piatt to be paid in full. Mr. Brems was at the meeting and did not correct her statement.

Her biggest complaint concerned poor workmanship and her inability to reach an agreement with the Planning Commission on how to fixthe problems. She had even hired an architect to look at the work and his letter seemed to agree with her claims of poor workmanship. She said that Planning Commission supervisor Warren Weber, who is also a member of the Kirkersville International Property Code Board appointed by Bennie Evans, commented on architect's report by stating that everyone had their own opinion! Needless to say, she and the rehab program could not come to an agreement because, she stated, "they want to cover over the errors (by putting rails on top of the errors on the deck)." She said they would not accept work of this quality on their own homes and she wouldn't allow it on hers. She wants the work to be redone properly.

Bennie Evans said he missed some things during his inspection. Jerry Brems said they agree that work needs "done and redone." Warren Weber agreed that there were some warranty items that had to be done. But it's too bad they didn't agree to do this work BEFORE this woman hurt herself! She said Piatt built a deck with steps but no handrails. She asked for handrails because she is handicapped. She was told that the steps weren't high enough to require handrails. She fell and broke a bone in her hand and while she was showing Mr. Weber the problems, he almost fell in the same place as she did.

I was amazed about what I was hearing. Not only has this been going on for nearly three years, this woman has been physically injured! What will it take for someone to pay attention?

After this meeting, Bennie Evans passed by me and said, "You've got a problem." How about that! He is abusing the system and he thinks I have a problem! I did admit to him that I DO have a problem. I don't like how my tax dollars are being spent!

Incidentally, according to public records, Bennie Evans picked up parts for the Kirkersville police cruiser one afternoon when he should have still been at work. Really now, who has a problem? And I don't mean Mayor Coleman's wife!

Bonnie MansfieldKirkersville

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