ATLANTA - Wednesday's Montmorency County Commissioners meeting was disrupted by what Commissioner Brock Baggett said is a potential civil action case. County resident Jerry Underwood requested time on the agenda to approach the board about Island Hill Road, after meeting and filing a complaint with the road commission.
"After complaining to the road commission about the condition of Island Hill Road, my property was damaged. They are using intimidation to try to make me move out of the area," Underwood said. "I'm asking the board to not allow the damaging of our roads and vehicles to continue."
Underwood said intimidation factors continued and his door was bashed in, along with other forms of harassment and property damages.
"When we leave this meeting, I'll have people at my home," Underwood said.
Ken Werner, Montmorency County Road Commission chairperson, said Underwood approached the road commission last month, but the road commission is still considering what steps to take.
"We were informed no litigation can take place at this time," Werner said. "There's a possibility of a permit and having them show the road commission what you are dragging the road with ... we're working on it."
Underwood said the road condition has been an ongoing issue for the past 10 years, and is considering a lawsuit against the road commission, and a criminal and civil lawsuit against the bear hunters, who he said are destroying the road and damaging his property.
While the issue appeared to be contained, some of the Island Hill bear hunters voiced their opinion. Keith Huff and his son Sgt. Troy Huff of the Gaylord City Police said all of the hunting was done legally on public roads and that Underwood had a personal agenda. The meeting quickly turned into hostile arguments.
"You live in the woods on a dirt road. If the road commission doesn't have a problem ... This is the wrong forum for this," Baggett said.
Baggett said he does not have an issue with bear hunting on public roads, but said personal property destruction and threats is a problem. However, without solid evidence, the Underwoods do not have a case.
"This is hostile. Someone is going to get hurt, especially when guns are drawn," Commissioner Bert LaFleche said.
While the board did not take action on this issue, it did spend time on the subject and listened to both parties and the road commission. Baggett suggested a different forum to solve the dispute, Sheriff Don Edwards and Undersheriff Brian Crane also were present at the meeting.
Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687.