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Salem votes to drop legal action against County Commission, seek new Town Attorney

The town of Salem voted Tuesday night to withdraw its legal action against the Harrison County Commission in regards a disputed annexation of nearly 500 acres of land.
 
"We need to get along well with the County Commission, not only for this council but for future councils as well," Mayor Bobby Samples said.
 
The writ of mandamus was filed by Town Attorney Lisa Furbee Ford on behalf of the city after the commission did not sign a proposed annexation by petition for 4 weeks, citing the body did not have any other available action.
 
The commission claims it is only doing its due diligence in regards to evaluating the petition.
 
The main point of contention within the 497 acres in the proposal was a stretch of U.S. Route 50, nearly a mile long.
 
Town officials claimed the land belong to them, the commission -- based on information provided by the DOH -- claimed they did not. After consulting the representative from the Thrasher engineering firm, Ford said it would not be an issue.
 
After the 4-1 vote with John Golden abstaining, the council then tabled a vote on how to proceed with the annexation after Vice Mayor Robert Knight presented a letter to Ford dated July 7 from Commission President Ron Watson advising from the commission's standpoint what the best course of action would be.
 
Knight gave the letter to Ford to look over and give back but Ford did not immediately do so.
 
Based on frustrations with the process, Knight made a motion the council seek a new Town Attorney.
 
With the vote 3-2 with one abstaining, the decision fell on Mayor Samples.
 
"It's not personal, it's just business," as he cast the final vote in the affirmative.
 
Ford thanked the council for her time working with them and informed the request to withdraw the legal action would have to be done with a new representative by Thursday, the deadline for the writ of mandamus.
 
When asked about the decisions, Samples simply said "It was the will of council."
 
The process going forward to allow Salem to annex the is not clear.
 
If the council opts to rework the annexation by petition, eliminating the disputed portion of U.S. Route 50 and leave only the contiguous section between Upper and Lower Dog Run, the long process will have to start again from the beginning.
 
Another option involves a minor boundary adjustment request that has been tabled by the Harrison County Commission previously.
 
Commissioner Watson said the town's willingness to take out the part of U.S. 50 and to work together could potentially lead to annexation of the rest of the land Salem seeks.
 
"It think with that taken out and the willingness of the leadership of Salem and the County Commission to sit down that we can come up with an an amenable manner in which we'll be able to get their property that is outside their corporate limits annexed in to be part of the city corporate boundaries so that they can get on with their development."