Commissioner Ron Lee raised a question during Monday night’s full Warren County Commission meeting that has been on the minds of several local residents. Lee wanted to know the status of the court case involving fellow Commissioner Kenneth Rogers.
“I will ask a question that I have asked before at these county meetings,” said Lee. “Could you update us on the lawsuit between the Warren County taxpayers and Mr. Rogers where the taxpayers had to refund money to TEMA and FEMA in the amount of $124,000 because of falsifying reports. Can you just update us on the lawsuit’s progress?”
County Executive John Pelham said, “The only thing I can say at this time is a court date has been set. It is in August.”
“So, it is after the elections instead of before?” asked Lee.
Pelham said, “That is correct.”
“How convenient,” said Lee, as Rogers is running for county executive.
Rogers spoke up and said Lee wasn’t being fair in his questioning. Said Rogers in addressing Pelham, “Mr. Chairman, I would like to clarify that there was no false information sent into TEMA and FEMA at all. I don’t appreciate him saying I falsified documents at all.”
Lee’s question concerns a lawsuit which happened after the county incurred a breach of contract with a FEMA/ TEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant which was applied for and administrated in 2004 by Rogers, who was then county executive.
The $124,000 grant was given by FEMA/ TEMA to the county and was specifically designated to purchase, demolish and remove a flood-damaged home which was owned by Michael Hubbard.
However, instead of having the home destroyed, Rogers entered into a contract with Randall Dunn of RWRP Properties to have the home dismantled and moved, with Dunn providing a contribution of $16,000 to the county, $6,000 of which was paid back to Dunn with two checks for $4,500 and $1,500.
FEMA/ TEMA directed the county to repay the organization’s $93,000 share of the 75-25 matching grant, and also directed the county to pay $31,000 to Hubbard.
According to County Executive John Pelham, “The original contract was acquisition and demolition. But because the demolition didn’t happen, it became acquisition and relocation, and under the relocation part of it, the homeowner does not forfeit his ownership of the home. So basically, we sold a home that did not belong to us. It still belonged to Mr. Hubbard, according to the way it’s been explained to us by counsel. So because he was still a shareholder, if you will, of that piece of property, then he is due his percentage back to him of what the property was appraised at.”
The house reportedly was moved to Centertown in the path of the new four-lane connecting McMinnville to Woodbury resulting in the Tennessee Department of Transportation purchasing the home from Dunn.