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APPALACHIAN School of Law held its annual
Founders Day luncheon Friday. Pictured from
left are interim dean Wes Shinn, Virginia
Lawyers Weekly Editor-In-Chief and keynote
speaker Paul E. Fletcher, Grundy Mayor and ASL
Board of Trustees Chairman Roger Powers,
Appalachian Service Award recipients the
Honorable James C. Turk, Frank Kilgore and
Benjamin F. Sutherland and ASL President Lu
Celebrates Its Annual Founder's Day
Lawyers Weekly Editor-in-Chief Paul E. Fletcher was the
keynote speaker Friday as the Appalachian School of Law
celebrated its Founders Day.
Appalachian Service Award recipients were named during the
event (see related story, page 1B).
President Lu Ellsworth welcomed guests in attendance to the
luncheon, asking for a moment of silent prayer to honor those
who died and those who were injured following the tragic 2002
shootings at the school. He also made mention of ASL's
beginnings some 13 years ago when the idea of a law school for
Southwest Virginia was introduced.
2002 shootings claimed the lives of then dean Tony Sutin,
professor Thomas Blackwell and student Angela Dales. Three
other students, Stacey Beans, Rebecca Brown and Martha
Madeline Short, were injured.
also requested prayer for a bright future for the law school.
comments from Grundy Mayor Roger Powers, chairman of the ASL
Board of Trustees, interim dean Wes Shinn introduced Fletcher,
calling the ceremony "truly a wonderful event."
is about effective communication," he said referring to
Fletcher, who has served as editor-in-chief of Virginia
Lawyers Weekly since 1989.
graduate of the Washington and Lee University School of Law,
Fletcher was an associate with White, Elliott & Bundy in
Abingdon before joining the newspaper. To this day, he says he
enjoys every opportunity to return to Southwest Virginia.
have nice scenery," he said referring to Richmond,
"but the mountains are something special."
jokingly reminisced about the "international tour"
through Southwest Virginia: Lebanon, Damascus, Dublin; even
Haysi, because "that has to be in the Middle East,
back really is like coming home," he said. "I think
the Appalachian School of Law has really put Buchanan County
on the map."
his address, Fletcher reminded those in attendance that
entering the profession of law is a noble step for anyone to
being a lawyer and being able to serve is a way to make a
difference in people's lives," he said. "I do think
it comes down to the chance to make a difference and the
chance to show leadership."
also spoke about the need to honor those in law, saying he
believes events like ASL's Founders Day counter the sometimes
"bad rap" lawyers receive.
think it's oh-so good to recognize people for what they've
done," he said.
is a tremendous enterprise," he said in thanking those
who were honored Friday. "My hat is off to you."
luncheon concluded with the recognition of the 2007
Appalachian Service Award recipients: Attorneys Frank Kilgore
and Benjamin F. Sutherland and the Honorable James C. Turk.
For more of the story,
see the print edition of the Mountaineer, on sale at
newsstands now. For more information on how to subscribe
to the Mountaineer, call 276-935-2123 today.
Ratify Contract to Remove Dirt from Private Property
P. Harris Says He Donated Use of Truck; County Employee Donated
Cathy St. Clair
contract allowing the county to go on private property in the
Hurricane District to remove dirt and rock to be used at the
William P. Harris Park was ratified Monday during a meeting of the
Buchanan County Board of Supervisors – almost a week after the
work was started and after Hurricane Supervisor William P. Harris
was called in to the county administrator’s office in late
January or early February and told the county could not work on
private property without a right of entry.
said when he asked a county employee last week to remove the dirt,
he thought he had been okay in doing so since he said he had “a
paper signed” by the private landowner which he said allowed the
county to be on the property.
was used to grade out an area around a newly constructed picnic
shelter at the Council area park.
Monday, the board of supervisors ratified a contract between the
landowner and the county, allowing the county to be on the
property to remove the dirt. The contract was not signed by the
landowner until two days after the work had been done.
just trying to get a little dirt,” Harris told fellow board
members at Monday’s meeting when the contract issue came up.
“I guess somebody wants my job so bad, they called (to report
the dirt was being moved).”
Grundy Supervisor Roger Rife asked when Harris had gone on the
property to which Harris replied, “I think we all know that.”
Supervisor David Ratliff added that when it occurred “didn’t
make a difference.”
County Employee Ben Looney, who has worked for the county for 30
years, was sent to look at the property in late January or early
February, after Harris called the county garage asking for a
county truck and backhoe to be used in the Hurricane District to
move some dirt.
went to the site and said he knew looking at it that it was
private property and not something a county employee could be
working on without the appropriate documents.
told him then I can’t go in there without a right of entry
because it was private property,” Looney said.
Administrator W.J. Caudill confirmed that Looney alerted his
supervisor, Public Works Director Earl Rife, of the situation and
at that point, Caudill said Harris was called in and he and County
Attorney Mickey McGlothlin explained to Harris that the dirt could
not be removed from private property.
that, I thought it was a dead issue,” Caudill said.
County Attorney Lee Moise said Wednesday morning that he had been
aware of the meeting earlier this year when Harris was told the
county could not go on private property without a right of entry
and he said his impression after that meeting was that “it was a
dead issue, until W.J. asked me to go over to Council with him
said after he learned last Tuesday that there was reportedly work
going on to move the dirt off the private property and to take it
to the park for use in grading around the newly built picnic
shelter, he went to Council. Upon his arrival there, he said he
saw no work going on. Harris’ personal truck was sitting at the
park with several piles of new dirt next to the new shelter area.
he went back the next morning (Wednesday) with Moise and at that
time, he said the work was ongoing.
Park Employee Clarence Leemore Stevens, whose hiring had to be
ratified by the board previously after the action to hire him was
taken by Harris without full board approval in advance of the
hiring, was the employee driving Harris’ truck back and forth
between the park and property owned by Kenny Ball. He took dirt
from the Ball property to the park, allegedly at Harris’
direction last week.
said the Ball property was located about a mile from the park and
he said the dirt being removed was “very close” to Ball’s
yard. He told board members he was not moving the dirt because
there was a mud slide on the property, adding he got the dirt
there because it was the closest location from which to get dirt
for the park.
was the closest dirt available,” Harris said. “It was loaded
on my own personal truck and I furnished the fuel.”
Caudill and Moise visited the park, Moise stated Stevens was
“donating his time” to move the dirt.
understanding is that the truck being used was William P.
Harris’ private truck and that the fellow at the park, Clarence
Stevens is donating his time and will not be paid,” Moise said
Wednesday. The piece of equipment being used on the Ball property,
he said was also being donated by another private individual for
use on the project.
are no county funds being expended for the work being done,”
Moise and Caudill went to the park Wednesday, Moise said they had
a general discussion with Harris in order to make him understand
the county’s concerns. Moise said they also had a conversation
with Stevens during which he said Stevens indicated he “would be
happy to donate his time.”
that the person operating the backhoe to load the truck with dirt
was also donating his time.
he nor Caudill knew the name of the person who had been operating
is absolutely no indication that William P. Harris was doing
anything in my opinion which would benefit him personally,”
Moise said. “He was just working on the park. This was a
situation where someone could legitimately get confused about what
they could or couldn’t do since the dirt was going to the county
said he asked Stevens to begin moving the dirt Tuesday.
what point Stevens had agreed he was “donating” his time for
the task, Harris said he didn’t know and referred the question
Stevens said Tuesday that Harris had talked to him about doing the
work some time ago and getting the dirt, as he could. He said the
conversation at that that time had been that he would donate his
donated two days so far," Stevens said, adding he was willing
to donate more time in the event more dirt is needed.
said last Wednesday there was a question as to whether taking the
dirt actually resulted in improvements to the Ball property,
however, he said Ball had agreed to donate the dirt to the county
for park use.
said Monday he had originally asked for the county equipment to be
used on the site and he said that after Looney visited the site
and he had been called in to discuss the matter further with
Caudill and McGlothlin, he had gone back to Ball.
went back and Kenny signed a paper about two months ago,” Harris
the "paper" was a right of entry and he said he had been
“led to believe” in his meeting with Caudill and McGlothlin
that moving the dirt would be okay if he had a right of entry.
not have the right of entry paper to which he referred available
at Monday’s meeting, but indicated he could produce it for
review if someone wanted to see it.
said he had not seen it, but added he had not asked to see it.
said he thought since he had the paper from Ball giving him
permission to be on the property that it was different when he
sent Stevens there to get the dirt. He said about 10 loads of dirt
had been removed from the property.
said Ball never called him and asked for the dirt to be moved,
adding, "I just knew he had it available.”
that no county equipment was used to move the dirt.
contract allowing the work was ratified by the full board of
supervisors – almost a week after the work was started.
contract allows the county to be on the property and it allows the
donation of dirt in which “the landowner acknowledges that
removal of such material and the grading of same upon his property
will enhance the value of his property.”
return, the contract notes the county will receive top soil and
fill material at no cost for improvement of the county-owned
property at the park.
shelter around which the dirt was placed, was built using county
crews. No action was ever taken by the full board of supervisors
to vote to construct a shelter at the park, however Moise noted
that sometimes projects of that nature “get ratified after they
he would like to see the board move to a more centralized system
which sees projects approved and action taken by the full board
before the action occurs.
motion to ratify the contract was made by Harris and was seconded
by Ratliff. It was agreed to unanimously.
don’t understand it,” Harris said. “But if you got someone
after you, they know what time you get up and what time you go to
more of the story, see the print edition of the Mountaineer,
on sale at newsstands now. For more information on how to
subscribe to the Mountaineer, call 276-935-2123 today.