EATON — The Preble County Board of Commissioners and Preble County Board of Elections (BOE) are continuing to discuss updates to the Preble County Courthouse and additional space for BOE.
A meeting was scheduled between Board of Elections Chairperson Lisa Bruns and Commission President Rodney Creech to discuss the letter BOE sent on July 23. However, according to Creech, since the BOE threatened legal action in that letter, the commission sought its own legal council. Creech was advised not to meet with Bruns without talking to the lawyer first and had to delay the meeting.
After the cancellation of the meeting, Bruns submitted a letter to commissioners, dated Aug. 5.
It reads, “On July 28, 2019, the Board of County Commissioners requested a meeting between Commission President Creech and me, in my capacity as chair of the Preble County Board of Elections. The Board of Elections agreed to the meeting request and authorized me to attend the meeting, which was then scheduled for Aug. 5, 2019, at 8:30 a.m.
“On Aug. 4, 2019, I received a text message from our Director, Terri Hans, advising me that Commission President Rodney Creech had contacted one of the members of the Board of Elections to advise that the meeting was cancelled. In light of the fact that I am the chair of the Board of Elections and that I was the Board representative who was going to attend the meeting, any communication regarding the meeting should have been made directly to me. I am listed in the phone book and the board member who was reached should also have had my number.
“Having not received direct notice from any representative of the County Commission that the meeting is off, I really do not know if the meeting was cancelled. Because the notice of cancellation was made so informally, I would request that you provide me written confirmation of the cancellation of the meeting so that there is a record that the County Commission, which called the meeting and not myself or the Board of Elections, was in fact cancelled.
“We, the Board of Elections have been trying to obtain the commissioners’ cooperation in finding an appropriate and adequate space for our office, for an early voting location, (ADA and Homeland Security compliant) and for safe and secure storage of our new and very expensive voting equipment for more than two years. The cancellation of this meeting — that you requested — only delays this process again.”
The letter was signed by Lisa A. Bruns, Preble County Board of Elections Chair.
Commissioner Creech sent his response on Aug. 8.
It reads, “Thank you for your letter dated Aug. 5, 2019, regarding our previously scheduled meeting.
“As you know, the Preble County Board of Commissioners received a letter dated July 23, 2019, from the Preble County Board of Elections. The letter requested the procurement of a new building, alleged violations of state and federal law, and referenced 26 pages of enclosed documents. Additionally, the letter requested a response in less than 72 hours under threat of legal action.
“To avoid costly litigation, I was immediately authorized to speak with you on Aug. 5, 2019. The meeting was scheduled in good faith, and I had every intention of attending when it was scheduled. However, it became clear that there were complicated issues involved, including the lease with the Preble County Art Association and state and federal accessibility regulations, among other issues. Because I needed more time to fully prepare for the meeting, I put that off.
“You state that you only received informal notice that the meeting was canceled. I apologize that it was done informally, but it was the fastest way to let you and your Board know under the circumstances. Fortunately, your director let you know about the cancellation a day before the meeting was scheduled to take place.
“More importantly, the Board of Commissioners is still interested in discussing practical solutions to the important issues raised by the July 23 letter. The official response by the Board of Commissioners is enclosed for your review.
“I look forward to meeting with you or another representative from the Board of Elections to further serve Preble County at a time and place that is sensible after proper preparation.”
The letter was signed by Commission President Rodney Creech.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH