2017-12-17 / Front Page

Judge rules in favor of Misteguay drain board

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

On Wednesday, Dec. 13, the Misteguay Creek Intercounty Drain Board met at the New Lothorp Village Hall to receive a report from legal counsel Michael Woodworth of Woodworth and Associates, as well as receive updates on various reports.

Woodworth reported that on Saturday, Nov. 11, Judge Janet M. Boes dismissed both lawsuits against the Misteguay Creek Intercounty Drain Board. Both entities have since filed to appeal the decisions.

In late 2016, Albee Township filed a lawsuit against the Misteguay Creek Intercounty Drainage Board. Albee’s lawsuit contends the drainage board failed to perform the duties in a timely manner. It also asserts a claim that the Misteguay board is in violation of the Environmental Protection Act.

On Friday, Jan. 13, Shiawassee County filed a complaint against Albee Township contending its lawsuit has no merit. At last January’s drain board meeting, Woodworth said the Shiawassee County complaint was unusual because, “They filed a complaint that another complaint was invalid. The Shiawassee Group is intervening in a lawsuit.” He commented that if Albee Township drops its lawsuit, then Shiawassee County has no complaint.

The board went into closed session to discuss the lawsuit with Woodworth. At the time, Misteguay Board Chairman Michael Gregg had been stuck in traffic when I-69 was shut down due to snow covered, icy roads. Gregg had been conducting the meeting using a wireless phone on speaker while sitting in traffic. He arrived during the closed session.

The litigation has made it difficult for the Misteguay Creek Intercounty Drain Board to move forward on any capital improvements to the drain. However, during the Dec. 13 meeting, Saginaw County Public Works Commissioner Brian Wendling presented an inspection report on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s removal of a culvert that had previously drained from its property into the Misteguay.

The Misteguay Creek Drain Board’s financial report indicated that the board has $46,095 in outstanding bills. Former Gratiot County drain commissioner Brian Denman was still owed $494.64, despite having left the board one year ago.

In addition, the law firm of Woodworth and Associates is currently owed $150,178. During the meeting, Woodworth asked that the firm be allowed to charge six percent interest on future legal services, but not on the current outstanding amount. The Misteguay board agreed and contracted with Woodworth to continue to represent the drain board through the appellate process.

The Misteguay Creek Intercounty Drainage Board did not set the next meeting, but left it up to Gregg to contact board members when information is available for another meeting.

Chairman Gregg serves as a neutral party conducting the meetings as he works for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

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