Addressing members of Harlan Fiscal Court on Thursday about an ongoing lawsuit involving the Yocum Creek Volunteer Fire Department, the county and two Clover Fork families, a representative for the fire department asked why nothing has been done for the past five years.
Macky Wynn presented a copy of a deed entered on June 25, 1990 where Ri-Jon Company deeded to the Yocum Creek Volunteer Fire Department property at Kenvir for $4,995.
Wynn also presented a copy of a deed entered on July 30, 2007 where that same property was purchased by Harlan County Fiscal Court from John and Jane Christian and Johnny and Mary Lynn Pace for $10,000.
On July 9, 2009, a civil lawsuit was filed in Harlan Circuit Court by Harlan County Fiscal Court against John and Jane Christian, of Evarts, and Johnny and Mary Lynn Pace, of Kenvir.
That complaint alleges on July 30, 2007, property belonging to Yocum Creek Volunteer Fire Department was purchased by the county for $10,000 from John and Jane Christian and Johnny and Mary Lynn Pace, who did not own the property.
The county seeks a judgement requiring the defendants to return the $10,000 paid for the property.
Wynn said this lawsuit has been ongoing for approximately five years. As a representative for the department, Wynn said he would like to see the lawsuit settled.
“We have tried several avenues to get this resolved because it does involve taxpayers’ dollars that weren’t used correctly,” said Wynn. “How many other times has this happened? This property was bought in 1990 for the Yocum Creek Fire Department and in 2007 the county purchases this property from someone else.”
Wynn said his question to fiscal court is how did this transaction happen when deeds were recorded in the Harlan County Clerk’s Office and open for research.
“How did an illegal document get through fiscal court and how was this purchase made when it took me five minutes to go to the clerk’s office and get a copy of all of these deeds,” asked Wynn.
Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop said when the county purchased the property they were led to believe “there was not ownership by the fire department.”
That was how the transaction took place, he said.
“We were led to believe we had three weeks (to purchase) or it would go to public sale,” said Grieshop. “After we found out the fire department already owned the property and not John Christian, we went ahead and pursued getting the county’s money back from Mr. Christian and that’s where we are on this. I don’t know why it’s taking so long.”
Grieshop said he hopes this lawsuit will be settled “very soon.”
Wynn responded by asking for something in writing verifying “someone is trying to get something done on this issue.”
“We’ve looked for an answer for years,” said Wynn. “We’d like something today. I think there’s more here than just filing a complaint against a certain individual.”
According to records in the Harlan Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, the last entry on this case was an order filed on July 19, 2011 certifying the need for a special judge.
Since that time, no action has been taken, according to the clerk’s office.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, firstname.lastname@example.org