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Board Of Public Work Member Questions Attorney's Impartiality
Updated May 5, 2013 1:05 AM | Filed under: WBIW News
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(MITCHELL) - At Mitchell's board of public works board member Terry Slone questioned the impartiality of Chris Burton as the attorney now charged with filing the declaratory judgment on behalf of the city in settling the Everett Ferrel residency case. (Times Mail)

Slone pointed to a contract between the city of Mitchell, Burton and Ron Burcham that was signed by former Mayor Morris "Butch" Chastain in 2006. In settling a land dispute for the construction of Doc Hamilton Boulevard, the contract states the city will provide costly road cuts, easements, water and sewer to any houses built in a proposed housing addition off the new road.

The land is currently listed for sale.

Slone told the board the contract scared him and says it's a conflict of interest for Burton to resent the city.

Ferrel, who also sits on the board of works with Slone and Mayor Gary Pruett, told them he has never used Burton as an attorney in any legal matter.

But Slone still questioned the issue. Mayor Gary Pruett assured Slone it wouldn't be a problem and didn't think the contract related to the issue of Ferrell's residency case and the two matters were separate issues.

Ron Pridemore, a Mitchell resident who attended the meeting, saying he was not fond of Burton representing the city and wanted to know why the board was no told about the contract before voting to have Burton represent the city.

He also added he didn't know why the city was taking a stance on the case, since the city has all ready stated its opinion and that Ferrel had forfeited his seat when he ceased to be a resident of the city, according to Indiana law.

He says Ferrel should seek his own attorney to settle the case and take the city to court.

He asked the board, that if Ferrel wins the judgment, he can come back and ask the city to pay the more than $7,000 in attorney fees paid to Tucker & Tucker that were accrued during the dispute.

Clerk-treasurer George James said he didn't believe that would be a part of the judgment because the decision to hire Tucker & Tucker was not made by the council in a legal council meeting.

Pruett ended the conversation saying that he saw no conflict of interest, but Slone still with doubts agreed with Pruett and the topic was dropped.

Pruett added it's important for the city to know if it owes Ferrel money or not. His salary for being a councilman ($4,900 annually) was withheld by the city during the dispute.

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