Greentop fire association sues Adair County over records, district borders

Adair County officials are facing a lawsuit from the Greentop Volunteer Fire Association over records the fire association says supports its claim that the county acted outside of its authority in approving fire district boundaries in 2014 (Photo: KTVO)

A northeast Missouri fire association says that Adair County officials acted outside their authority in a secret meeting, and attempted to cover it up by refusing to produce related records.

In a suit filed Sept. 1, the Greentop Volunteer Fire Association accused Adair County Clerk Sandy Collop and commissioners Carson Adams, Stanley Pickens and Mark Thompson of changing fire protection district borders in a meeting to approve the Adair County plat book on March 25, 2014.

The county commission has long held that it has not changed any boundaries itself, only approved what other offices have already agreed to. The fire association says that the borders approved by the commission during that 2014 meeting prevent the Greentop fire association from collecting fees and dues properly, and that the meeting was apparently held without notice and without any minutes taken.

When the fire association asked for “minutes and agendas from all meetings concerning Adair County fire associations since July 2013,” the suit alleges that the county intentionally did not include any records related to the March 2014 meeting in order to “hide” any actions taken during the meeting.

The suit stacks several allegations against Collop specifically, singling her out for what it says were multiple attempts to unlawfully withhold public records. In a request made earlier this year, the fire association says Collop refused to produce the Adair County plat book because it “is not a county document.” As in most Missouri counties, the Adair County Assessor’s Office confirmed Thursday that a copy of the county plat book is available in its office for a $25 fee.

In addition to asking for reimbursement of court costs and attorney’s fees, the suit asks for the court to void the boundaries approved in the 2014 plat book, and to fine each official up to $6,000 for each violation of Sunshine Law.

Online court records show that Judge Russell Steele recused himself last week, and Judge Gary Dial has been assigned to hear the case.

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