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Argument over Salem annexation continues at Harrison County Commission meeting

For the fourth-straight week, the Harrison County Commission has not signed off on a petition allowing the city of Salem to annex 497 acres by the town.
 
The commission invited Salem residents and city council members to the meeting Thursday to allow them to discuss the issue.
 
Lisa Furbee Ford, the city's attorney said the commission has no other available action than to approve the petition and implied the fact they had not done so was setting a bad example.
 
"It sets a poor example for respect of the law," Ford said.
 
Commission President Ron Watson maintains they are only doing their due diligence when it comes to looking over the petition so constituents are protected.
 
"In our interpretation, we feel that [the petition] was incomplete," he said. "We have a right to protect all the people, not only from Salem but those that don't live in Salem."
 
As for the legal action against the commission, Watson said it is what it is.
 
"That's fine," he said. "We'll respond and let the court do whatever the court wants to do, but we think the state has a role in it because a major part of the annexation by petition is a state right of way there on the four-lane of Route 50."
 
The contentious area is essentially a peninsula of land which would put a stretch of Route 50 within city limits.
 
On the original June 12 meeting between the city and the commission, the information provided by the city indicated all the land within the proposed annexation was owned by deed. However, the commission believes this is not the case, claiming the state ownership is held by another entity.
 
The commissioners' suggestion was for Salem City Council to revisit the proposal and perhaps annex the main land desired through minor boundary adjustments and leave out the disputed stretch of Route 50.
 
Watson reiterated the commission was not against any city developing land, but wanted to see it done without any questions surrounding its process.
 
"We try to help those communities," Watson said. "We've been working with Salem for a long time. We feel we represent everybody and that's the reason we're elected officials."
 
The Upper and Lower Dog Run areas and the contiguous area of U.S. 50 are part of the proposed 497 acres to be annexed.