To The Editor:
I would like to take a moment and thank the Switzerland County Commissioners (excluding Mr. Peters since he just began his term this year) for recently digging in the creek and fixing the flash flooding issues that were occurring at our ex-home. This has come after you repeatedly told us you couldn’t and weren’t allowed to dig in the creek without obtaining numerous permits that were nearly impossible to obtain. This came after you sent a letter to us in 2017 from the county attorney stating you had an engineer assess it and she deemed it was not the county’s fault. This after we later found out that this woman, whom you claimed was an engineer, in fact doesn’t even have a degree in engineering; she simply worked for an engineering firm. Why didn’t you just send someone’s grandma down there to take a look at it? This after I suggested to hire a contractor and have it fixed myself and was told absolutely not and that I would face huge fines if I did. This after I told you if it were one of your homes it would’ve been corrected immediately. This after being flooded multiple times, three times in one month! Can you imaging scraping mud off your floors and off everything you own every single time it rained?
We finally gave up and had to leave our home that was already paid for. We had to buy a new home that came with a 20-year mortgage. Both of us are near retirement age and we were looking forward to slowing down soon to enjoy the years we have left, but now we must work years longer to pay this new debt. After all of this, now you decide to fix the problem that we believe you created to begin with! What a slap in the face! We are appalled by the way you handled this! This was our home and not one of you lifted a finger to try and fix this! All we got from you was a letter full of lies telling us that your so-called engineer said it wasn’t your fault.
We were told by an eyewitness who saw you fixing the creek in the fall of 2018, that it only took you three days to correct it. Three days!
We have so many “why” questions to ask: Why was this fixed after we were forced to move and go into debt again for another home? Why were you so determined not to correct a problem we feel you clearly created several years ago by redirecting the creek to save your county road? We don’t believe your fake engineer! Why did you suddenly decide to dig in the very spot you dug several years ago? We feel it was an obvious attempt to cover up the old work out of fear of litigation for deceiving us into believing you had a actual engineer look at it!
When we were informed in the Fall of 2018 that she wasn’t an engineer, we asked the county attorney for the report, but he refused to give it up, just as he’s done to others in the past. We attempted to obtain it from the Public Access Counselor (PAC) however, the county attorney falsely claimed to have felt threatened by litigation, so we were denied by the PAC as well. Someone went to personally speak with the PAC on our behalf and was able to explain our situation clearly to him. As a result of their meeting, he related that because we didn’t file a tort within 180 days of when we first noticed the flooding issues, that there was not risk to the county of potential litigation. The PAC said he would contact the county attorney to convince him to release the report. After speaking with the county attorney, the PAC believed the report might be released, again, we attempted to ask the county attorney for the report, but he viciously replied by accusing us of threatening him, which we most certainly have not. We asked him to provide us with details of when and how we have threatened him, but he has not given us a reason for such accusations.
Additionally, it appears he is issuing retaliation in the form of withholding the report because we contacted the PAC, and because we’ve “aligned” with Melissa Brush — who has become a friend and has shared the details of her family’s experience of being victims of a similar circumstance in 2016; the county just settled with her family in January of this year. Three years later. Mr. Goering told us to hire our own engineer. How can we do that now that you’ve cleaned up your mess? There is no way to prove anything now, yet you wont’ prove to us that the report says what you said it did.
Why won’t you release the report form your so-called engineer? We didn’t file a tort because we believed you were being honest, so we lost our opportunity to do so. How many others have been fooled when you said you sent an engineer? There is no fear of litigation, so why not release the report? We the taxpayers of Switzerland County have paid for these reports that are being held hostage by the appointed (not elected) county attorney. So many people question the existence of this report and believe it was a fabricated lie in an attempt to convince us it wasn’t the county’s fault. We had someone who is familiar with this sort of thing and is an excavator look at the damages. We were told that in his opinion the flooding problems was a direct result of your previous work. I guess we should just call him an engineer too! The lack of compassion and the level of deception from the very people we have elected to serve our county sickens us!
We have been lied to repeatedly. You first told us it was DNR that wouldn’t allow you to dig. DNR told us that was untrue. Then it was the Army Corps of Engineers, but they also validated that was untrue. Next, you said it was the EPA. Your final excuse was that you weren’t allowed to disturb the Indiana brown bats! So, tell us, how did you get all those permits that are so difficult and take so long to obtain? Did the bats finally give you permission to dig last fall? Did the bats issue all the necessary permits?
Maybe our grievance in anger should be directed toward those filthy little bats that took up residence in our creek! No that can’t be, because it appears that there weren’t any permits or request for authorization ever applied for prior to digging into the creek again. When will you learn that it’s imperative for our environment to get proper authorization? The people of this county deserve better from our elected officials and our county attorney.
We’ve discovered that there are more people who have been wronged in similar situations from you blindly digging up creeks and causing property damage to honest tax paying folks just like us. Maybe you should, oh, I don’t know, hire real engineers who are qualified and have a true understanding of hydraulics in what happens when you dig up a creek and try to redirect it!
It’s too late for us, but I truly hope the county starts hiring qualified people from now on before they mess up anyone else’s life! Three days! Three days is all you had to give us so that we could’ve stayed in our home! You should all be ashamed of your deception and disregard for the needs of your neighbors from whom you were elected and are supposed so serve!
This wasn’t easy to write, it actually quite uncomfortable to speak out about this, and we are certain hard feeling will follow from many. But we are also getting a lot of support from others, and its’ very much appreciated. We think all of us would agree that if it took just three days of work to keep someone’s home from flash flooding and destroying it, it should be a very easy decision to do the right thing at the right time. The truth shall set your free!