Tourism: Facts, Assumptions, Myths


  • Fact. An event, item of information, or state of affairs existing, observed, or known to have happened, and which is confirmed or validated to such an extent that it is considered ‘reality.’
  • Assumption. A  thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.
  • Myth an unfounded or false notion.

Question:  How much tourism is too much?   An issue that is addressed throughout the world. (google the question)

Jan 28, 2019. Brown County Matters – Facebook Post on BCD’s Jan 24 article (below).

  • I’m starting an analysis of the tourism report and received a copy of the presentation – 2017 Economic Impact of Tourism in Brown County developed by Rockport Analytics. What the article and report do not provide is context.
  • The study identifies that tourism is growing and tourists spent $42.7 million which is good news for the owners of business establishments that cater to tourists. The report also states: “For every $67,102 spent on tourism in Brown County in 2017 supported a job resulting in an average wage of $19,259 in gross wages” and … “ Total Traveler Spending supported 636 Jobs. “
    • Jobs within the county by Industry
      • Government  – 859. (county and state)
      • Tourism – 543.
      • Other industries – 1,840.
      • Total jobs within the county: 3,242.
      • Total individuals employed (inside and outside the county) 7,500. (census data).
  • The county is funded primarily by income and property tax. The total taxable wages (“economic impact”) by all county citizens is approximately $260 million. The county income tax levy generated 6.5 million (1) in revenue. The county income tax rate is 2.5234%. (6.5 million/.025=260 million). There are approximately 7,500 citizens in the workforce – average wage (260 million/7,500) = average of $35,000 rounded.
    • (1) The 6.5 million was obtained from the presentation provided by the RDC that was briefed to the public. See slide 26 “How are our income & property taxes allocated?”
    • Average employee wages in tourism are among the lowest of all the industries in the county and region.
    • United Way –  ALICE Brown County Report Information on households that earn more than the federal poverty level but less than the basic cost of living for the county. Nashville at 54% has the highest score compared to the townships and conservancy.

Jan 24, 2019, BCDEconomic impact study finds tourism growing, by Suzanna Couch. If tourism in Brown County did not exist, in theory, each household would have to pay an additional $613 per year in taxes to make up the money it brings into the community.

  • The article includes a summary presented to the CVC by Jane Ellis that highlights the benefits to the owners of the businesses that cater to tourists.

 Tourism Key Points

  • The State of Indiana promotes tourism which generates revenue from sales taxes.
  • The State subsides the tourism industry by allowing Brown County to collect a 5% innkeeper’s tax that has to be used to promote more tourism.
  • Economic impact studies commissioned by the State and County “estimate” that tourism can result in positive economic impacts.  These studies do not include any adverse effects from tourism that include the impact on local culture, crime, congestion, increased infrastructure costs, emergency services,  etc.
  • Andy Rogers – Vision for a right balance of tourism within Brown County
    • People say, ‘Well, we can’t change.’ But we can change and still retain some of the flavor of Brown County. We need people to live here. I’m in the tourist business but we don’t want to turn this town over to the tourists. You can go to Gatlinburg if you want to see what happens to a town that turns it all over to business. It’s not a town anymore—it’s a shopping center. We need people here. This town needs to be alive.” 
    • “We don’t need to be slick and highly commercial. We need to be more country. Country is what we sell…. We need to maintain that. Once you destroy that, it won’t come back.” 
    • County tax policy is high income (5th highest in the State) and low property. You lose “country”, and you most likely lose residents which shifts the tax burden on to fewer people.
  • Validation of the assumptions supporting estimates as to economic impact would be reflected in revenue from income and property taxes.
  • A five-member Convention Visitors Commission (CVC) is established to manage the revenue from the innkeeper’s tax.  The CVC budget has to be reviewed and approved by the county council.  The CVC contracts with the Convention Visitors Burea (CVB) to manage the funds.
  • Three of the five members of the CVC must be innkeepers.  Justification – Innkeepers collect the tax and would favor promotions that may lead to more overnight stays.
  • Owners of tourism establishments benefit from investments of the revenue from the innkeeper’s tax through sales and increases in the asset values of their establishments.
  • The county is funded primarily by income and property tax.  The county collects no income taxes if owners and employees live outside the county.
  • Commercial properties including tourism business in Brown County, may not be experiencing the annual increases in property taxes that are being experienced by residential property owners.  A contributing factor is that the sales of commercial properties are not at the volume where an increase in market value can be established.
  • The sale of acreage for the Maple Leaf Music Venue sold for $145,000 an acre. This sale did not result in an increase in assessed value of surrounding commercial properties. It is not included in assessing market trends,
  • County citizens and taxpayers pick up the inconvenience and infrastructure costs associated with more visitors to include congestion, roads, police and emergency services.
  • We will always have tourism that may be considered an asset for Nashville but can be a liability for the county (see Andy Rogers vision for tourism).

Additional Information:  

  • An excellent report on Brown County Economics.  BCD Report: Local taxes, job options need further scrutiny By: Sara Clifford/Brown County Democrat, Tuesday, May 16, 2017
  • Sep 20, 2017, GUEST COLUMN: A study of tourism and economic sustainability By Tim Clark. Economic impact studies of tourism in Indiana and Brown County reinforce the benefits of sustaining a tourism industry. However, tourism, by itself, has not and cannot provide a sustainable economic future for Brown County. Further, too much tourism can have detrimental effects on the attributes that have attracted pioneers, artists, residents and visitors to Brown County since 1836.
  • Census Data- County Employment by Sectors: 20181103 Employment Data Census Bureau
  • Future of Local Economy – Includes articles and independent results from studies
  • United Way –  ALICE Brown County Report Information on households that earn more than the federal poverty level but less than the basic cost of living for the county. Nashville at 54% has the highest score compared to the townships and conservancy.


Nashville 2016-2022 Financial Plan

Nov 20, 2018. Town consultant: ‘You can’t ask for a better budget’ As far as finances go, Nashville government couldn’t get any better. … That’s the message that Paige Sansone, a hired budget consultant, delivered to the Nashville Town Council earlier this month.

“The county commissioners also hired Umbaugh to do a financial plan for county government, but Sansone said she wasn’t personally working on that plan.”





2018 Elections: A referendum on Maple Leaf?

Letter to the Editor – Brown County Democrat – Published Nov 21, 2018,  Letter: A ‘referendum’ on the Maple Leaf project?

In the November 14, 2018 column in the Brown County Democrat – “Incumbent commissioner to serve another term,” Commissioner Biddle expressed a belief that her re-election included a referendum on the Maple Performing Arts Center. I believe this is a premature conclusion.

The next two years may provide voters the information needed to assess the popularity of Maple Leaf. The 2020 county elections will also provide a better assessment on the wisdom of this project and its endorsement by the local Republican Party and its candidates. If voters as Commissioner Biddle believes, are supportive of the project, are they also supportive of the process that was used to fast-track this project?

The idea for the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center was proposed by individuals who to their credit, admitted that they had a direct financial interest in the project. They determined the type of project (music venue), the scope, size, cost ($12.5 million), feasibility, design, and location. Even though the venue is located in one of the most congested areas of the county, these individuals (along with commissioners and all members of the county council) also chose not to contract for a traffic study.

Commissioners and council members with a timeline provided by the county attorneys, agreed to fast-track this process. They held no public meetings to solicit citizen input on the desirability of this project or to review other options that may have resulted in projects with a higher return on investment and less risk. They did not contract for an independent feasibility study on behalf of the taxpayers nor did they review the business plan at a meeting that was advertised to the public. The business plan would include projections as to profit and loss, break-even analysis, risk analysis, and cash flow requirements.

Further, since the commissioners and members of the council lack the expertise to review such a business plan for a music venue, a contract for an independent financial review would have also been advisable. The only public meetings that the commissioners and council announced to the public regarding this venue was to approve the project which they did as quickly as possible and with no discussion among themselves regarding any questions or concerns.

The collateral for the $12.5 million-dollar loan is revenue from the innkeeper’s tax which posed a very little risk to the lender. Further, there is a high probability that the county government would provide any additional funding needed. In fact, a newly elected councilman stated that he would not rule out a loan for Maple Leaf. Interesting comment despite a statement by the council president at the time of approval that he would not support any additional funding and would allow for default if this venue is not successful.

At this point – which may surprise many, I do hope this project is successful. I  do not accept that the ends (Maple Leaf) justify the means (fast-track process).  Criteria for success includes not requiring any taxpayer funding, the occurrence of adverse effects that could include traffic-related injuries and fatalities, any delays in providing vital emergency services, and effects that lead to reductions in county revenue and decreases in our tax base.



The moral roots of liberals and conservatives … socialists and capitalists

Jonathan Haidt: The moral roots of liberals and conservatives 

“If you take the greatest insights from Asian philosophies and religions and combine them with the latest research on moral psychology, I think you come to these conclusions:

  • Our Righteous Minds were “designed” to …
    • unite us into teams,
    • divide us against other teams, and
    • blind us to the truth

Haidt posits the theory that “stories” help “un-blind” us from the truth and will lead to better outcomes.   Haidt’s theory is supported by the works of W. Edwards Deming – one of the foremost authorities on quality management who concluded that everyone benefits through optimization, e.g., that actions should result in outcomes where everyone gains or at least, are not any worse off in the long-term.

Haidt and Deming’s philosophies are supported by the “stakeholder” theory which is discussed in Haidt’s talk about the “Three Stories of Capitalism.”

 Jonathan Haidt: Three Stories About Capitalism 

Johnathon Haidt is a social psychologist that works to bridge the gap between liberals, conservatives, socialists, and capitalists. In his talk – “Three Stories About Capitalism ” he reinforces how stories drive the narrative and concludes his talk by reinforcing the need for cooperative competition through the application of the “stakeholder” theory as opposed to the “shareholder” theory.

My career background is in the area of quality management. Quality Mangement supports the shareholder theory that is backed up by data, academic, and scientific studies.  If you want to read the stories of application success, “google” the winners of the Baldrige Award.

Brown County IN “Stories”  The intent of including these descriptions of future scenarios is to reinforce the relevance of the perspectives shared by a sample of community  “stakeholders.”

  • Brown County Matters – Facebook Posts “If you were to describe what you think the county will be like in 10 years, what would you say?   
  • HCI Meeting Notes August 13 – Includes 10-year projections on the future possibilities — includes the best case and worst case.  Future reality will fall somewhere in-between.  A needed step is to identify the data that will be used to assess and monitor the trends.
Book and Interview: The Righteous Mind’: Why Liberals and Conservatives Can’t Get Along, Jonathon Haidt.

When he started his book, he considered himself as a  “partisan liberal.”   The process of writing the book led to a new perspective that both liberals and conservatives can be right.

  • Number one priority? Political reform. (see
  • Educationally:  “… kill all the math classes beyond Algebra” – not useful and not helpful and replace with civics – political ideology and history;  replace calculus with basic statistics, Universities should be places of debate. People are concerned with their reputation that may create conditions that lead to more ethical behavior;
  • Emotions Rule.  Emotions (stories) influence reasoning as opposed to reasoning (the facts) influencing emotions.

My article and its relevance to national policy: Working with idiots and getting better results – Published at

  • “Haidt’s research indicates that moral responses are instinctual—human beings are born preloaded with basic moral values. He believes that political attitudes are an extension of our moral reasoning, which accounts for much of the vitriol that surrounds liberal and conservative ideology.
  • According to Haidt, an individual’s beliefs and actions are influenced through a filter of values that include caring, fairness, loyalty, authority, sanctity, and liberty. These values provide a foundation that is needed for a society to function. He believes that liberals focus more on caring and fairness and undervalue the importance of loyalty, authority, sanctity, and liberty. Conservatives also value caring and fairness, but not at the exclusion of loyalty, authority, sanctity, and liberty.”


2018 County Election Results

Unofficial Results by Precinct – 2018 General

Brown County Democrat (BCD) – Articles

“Straight-ticket voting was more popular in this election than in the past 10 years. This year, 56.7 percent of voters automatically voted for everyone on the ballot for their chosen party, and the majority — 65.5 percent of them — were Republicans. However, straight-party voters had to manually choose winners of some races separately, such as nonpartisan offices.”

Turnout for this election was 56.7 percent — not a record, but on par with turnouts for elections since 2008. The record in that time period was 64 percent for the 2016 presidential election.

BCD Website – All Offices

Our vote history – From Democrat sweeps to Republican

In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, results were almost the exact opposite of what we saw last week. …  The post-election paper in 1992 read: “Democrats dominate county election.” The only local Republican to win an office at the county level was Juanita Bainter, a four-term council member. … The story was similar in 1988, 30 years ago. All Democrats won their local offices, even though the county voted strongly for Republicans George Bush as president and Richard Lugar for senator.

The local Republican wave began to roll in 1996, the year of the Bob Dole-Bill Clinton presidential election. The top headline read “Voters sweep Republicans into offices’; the GOP won four of six contested races locally.

In 2000, it was more of the same. The top headline read “BLOWOUT: GOP loses only one contest.” That one holdout was Brown Circuit Court Judge Judith Stewart, a Democrat incumbent seeking her second term.

For the most part since then, Brown County has continued to trend red, following the majority of the state.

The 2008 election — with the Barack Obama/John McCain presidential race on the ballot — was the most balanced the results have been since then. Votes were nearly evenly split up and down the ballot, with seven Republicans and eight Democrats winning this county among national, state and local offices. Obama, of course, won the presidency that year; McCain won Brown County, but only by 208 votes.

Democrat Party Chair: “… And there, I think, is the problem: People that are not learning who the people are that are running for office.”

History Straight-Party Voting

Over the past 10 years, straight-ticket voting — automatically voting for all members of a particular party — has been on a fairly steady upward march.

In 2008, 18 percent of Brown County voters voted straight-ticket; 55 percent of them were Republican, 43 percent Democrat and 2 percent Libertarian.

This year, 56.7 percent of voters chose to vote strictly along party lines. Republican ballots were 65.6 percent of that total, 33.3 percent were Democrat and 1.1 percent were Libertarian.

Even as a party chairman, Bowman said he doesn’t like to see so many voters choosing the straight-party option. To him, that shows voters lack knowledge about the candidates. The choice listed from one’s own party isn’t always automatically the best choice for the job, he said.

Republican Party Chair:  “We need to protect the community with the best people, not just because you have a favoritism towards a certain party,” he said. “I view local elections totally separate. Obviously, you want your voters to vote for the best person even statewide and nationally too, but locally, it really affects us all.”

Democrat Party Chair: “Bond said that if straight-ticket would have gone the way of the Democrats, he would have been fine with it, “because I would have put up the best candidates. I believe I had the best candidates.”

Additional Articles:

Maple Leaf – Hexagon Design

Nov 6, 2018. BCD By Suzanna Couch  Maple Leaf taking shape: Amid construction, contracts also being hammered out …  The county has borrowed $12.5 million to build the performing arts center. The loan is to be paid back first by operating revenue, then by the innkeeper’s tax revenue if more is needed. Brown County visitors pay the innkeepers tax on room and cabin rentals.  (Facebook Post of the article and comments)

A  hexagon (6-sides) design is incorporated in the building of the government-owned Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center (MLPAC) in Nashville, Indiana.

hexagram is a six-pointed geometric star figure used to refer to the compound figure of two equilateral triangles. The intersection is a regular hexagon.

Famous Hexagonal Buildings

Hexagram – Wikipedia   Hexagrams have been historically used in religious and cultural contexts and as decorative motifs; by medieval MuslimsJudaism and occultism … as a decorative motif in medieval Christian churches,  and as a religious symbol by Arabs in the medieval period.

Of local interest, a hexagram is also used in Freemasonry.  The Nashville Indiana Lodge #135 Free and Accepted Masons started in 1851

Usage in Freemasonry (Wikipedia)

  • The hexagram is featured within and on the outside of many Masonic temples as a decoration. It may have been found within the structures of King Solomon‘s temple, from which Freemasons are inspired in their philosophies and studies. Like many other symbols in Freemasonry, the deciphering of the hexagram is non-dogmatic and left to the interpretation of the individual.
  • “The interlacing triangles or deltas symbolize the union of the two principles or forces, the active and passive, male and female, pervading the universe … The two triangles, one white and the other black, interlacing, typify the mingling of apparent opposites in nature, darkness and light, error and truth, ignorance and wisdom, evil and good, throughout human life.” – Albert G. Mackey: Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

Septic Condemnation – 10 Year Battle

Brown County Matters – Facebook Posts

Background Information  Septic Issue Hayworths 

Drained: Intricacies of septic condemnation confuse, frustrate residents, By Ben Skirvin, Brown County Democrat (Nashville)

Seventeen days before Christmas 2008, at the order of the Brown County Health Department, Brown County Water Utility shut off service to the Hayworth household.

On Aug. 13, 2008, Lowell Hayworth and his wife, Amanda, had bought a new mobile home to replace an existing dwelling at 7143 Oak Ridge Road.

On Aug. 15, environmental health specialist John Kennard appeared on their property with a stop-work order alleging that removing and replacing the mobile home was illegal without an additional septic permit from the health department.

And so started a six-year legal battle, which continues to this day.

West of the Hayworth property, on a plot northeast of Lake Lemon in the mostly abandoned, flood-damaged hamlet of Trevlac, sits the meeting hall for a now-defunct American Legion post.

The owner, Daniel Smith, faces jail time after being convicted of two counts of failure to vacate a condemned property – a Class B misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail.

County health officials alleged he was living there after the property had been condemned. Investigative notes say sewage was leaking into the basement of a nearby property.

Smith’s Aug. 13 trial was the culmination of a decade of legal battles sparked by a condemnation letter Kennard signed.

Documents released by the Brown County Health Department as part of a September 2012 public records request show 20 other properties in Brown County have been condemned in the past five years, although it’s unclear how many of those were for failed septic systems.

Kennard claims to have had as many as 160 open septic investigations at one time. He said he currently is reviewing about 100.

How does it happen?

The process by which properties get condemned for septic failure has been questioned and debated in recent years by several property owners, attorneys and health department representatives like Kennard.

Even area counties don’t agree on a specific procedure.

The circumstances under which a health department employee can enter a property is one point of debate.

Link Fulp, Bartholomew County assistant director of environmental health, said his office will enter property uninvited only in order to get permission from the owner to conduct an inspection.

Monroe County Health Department septic inspector Randy Raines said he will enter property to conduct an inspection without getting a warrant or permission only if no other option exists.

At least two sections of state law – regular and administrative code – discuss the investigatory powers of health officers.

In short, a health officer or a designee can enter a property at any reasonable time to determine compliance with health laws – with the permission of the owner.

But if the officer or designee does not need permission if he or she has a court order; if an emergency condition exists that could result in a greater public health threat or individual health risk; if the place is public or in plain view; or if the owner has requested a license of some sort through the health department.

Brown County Clerk Beth Mulry could not produce any warrant requests from the Brown County Health Department regarding the Smith or Hayworth cases. In her eight years in office, she said the health department has never requested a warrant.

‘We’re selective’

The attorney for the Hayworth family holds a file of photographs of Kennard entering their property on numerous occasions, as evidenced by changes in weather and time stamps. “No trespassing” signs are posted along the roadside edge of the property.

“We never gave him permission to enter our property,” Amanda Hayworth said. “We never saw a court order.”

Kennard was granted permission to enter once, she clarified, under the supervision of her lawyer. That visit was to observe a septic system inspection conducted by Ed Brown.

“At one point, he would stop here every three or four days,” Amanda Hayworth said about Kennard. “We found out from neighbors that he was walking around while we weren’t here.”

A single search warrant was mentioned by police officers during Smith’s trial. However, it was not introduced as evidence by the prosecutor or the defense. It was requested by the prosecutor in association with an arrest warrant for failure to vacate a condemned dwelling.

Officers attempted to serve it July 18, 2013, eight years after the initial complaint was levied against Smith.

The name of the person who filed the initial complaint was not included in the investigative notes.

Other curiosities exist in those notes related to the Smith case. In an entry dated Oct. 31, 2011, either Kennard or the health department’s other investigator, April Reeves, claimed that during a drive-by inspection, insulation and drywall installation in progress was observed inside the former Legion building.

The property is gated, and the building is set back at least 15 feet from the road, according to photos entered into evidence. Nashville Police Officer Paul Henderson testified to needing a bolt cutter to open the gate to the property.

On four occasions in the investigative log in 2012, a health department employee entered the Smith property to the extent of recording readings on the electric meter and entering the building while Smith was not present.

None of these entries notes that permission was obtained, a warrant or court order was issued, an imminent health hazard was recorded or a permit was requested.

Procedures, however, have recently changed, Kennard said.

He said he now obtains search warrants through the county prosecutor whenever he sets out to conduct an investigation.

“The average citizen thinks I’ve got nothing to do on a Thursday afternoon, so I’m gonna go pillage and plunder,” Kennard said.

“If I knock on the door and the property owner says I can’t enter, I get a search warrant. We’re selective when we decide to proceed. I can’t just arbitrarily pick someone.”

Prosecutor Jim Oliver said per Indiana code and local policy, a search warrant is required only when investigating criminal charges, such as failure to vacate. If the health department is investigating civil matters like compliance or public safety, then no warrant is required.

Who can sign?

Questions about procedure extend beyond when or how to enter a property.

On May 5, 2006, Kennard sent the order to Smith to vacate his property.

It was not signed by any officer of any court nor by then-County Attorney Kurt Young, then-Brown County Health Officer Paul Page or any member of the Brown County Board of Health.

“All they (Brown County Health Department) had to do was issue an order?” public defender Andy Szakaly asked. “That’s part of my problem. How can I defend this case without approaching the validity of the order itself?”

During the Smith trial, Szakaly said, the court would not allow him to present evidence attacking the way the condemnation order was issued. Judge Judith Stewart ruled that Smith missed his opportunity by failing to file suit against the health department within the time limit specified in the order.

Szakaly said the condemnation letter did not specify the procedure for challenging the order.

“It’s like Miranda rights,” he said. “How can Daniel Smith be expected to know his rights if he was never informed what those rights are?”

Szakaly plans to appeal the convictions against Smith on those grounds.

Raines said all condemnations in Monroe County require a court order and a hearing at which the owner is given a chance to object.

Fulp said his office almost never condemns property because of septic failure, as condemnations fail to address the health hazard and may make the situation worse when the property is later neglected.

More signature issues

Signatures are a point of contention in the Hayworth case, too.

Kennard’s signature is the only one on several enforcement actions against the Hayworths, including an Oct. 28, 2008, water disconnection order and an Aug. 29, 2011, condemnation order.

While Monroe and Bartholomew county officials disagree on whether a court order is required to condemn a property, both agree authority is not granted directly to the environmental health specialist.

Fulp said all condemnation orders issued in Bartholomew County are conducted under the authority of the local health officer, under advisement of the county attorney.

A county ordinance from 1995 granted condemnation power to agents of the health officer, Kennard said.

Kennard said the decision to attach his name, rather than then-health officer Page’s, to condemnation orders came out of meetings among himself, Page, prosecutor Oliver and former county attorney Young.

For at least part of the period covering the Smith and Hayworth cases, Page was suffering from late-stage terminal cancer.

Kennard said the local policy has recently changed on the sign-off procedure, too.

The prosecutor’s office has never pursued condemnation charges against anyone owning property that was condemned solely on Kennard’s authority. For example, Smith was charged based on incidents related to condemnation orders that Page signed.

Records and memories

Health department recordkeeping questions have surfaced as well.

Kennard claimed to have identified surface evidence of a septic failure sometime between Aug. 13, 2008, and Sept. 8, 2008. He identifies the location as the southeast corner of the property. He said he discovered it “probably” by seeing and smelling sewage, although he could not recall exactly when or where.

Four septic inspectors, two of whom are licensed with the health department, have since provided inspection reports that found no septic system in that area. The reports say the septic system is 20 to 30 yards away, largely on the opposite side of the house.

Pictures show Kennard was present at one of these inspections, and court documents show that results of the other inspections were forwarded to his office.

Yet, Kennard testified under oath as recently as 2013 to having evidence of surface leakage in the southeast corner of the property. When asked to provide evidence of this failure, he was able to recall that a soil sample had been taken, but he was unable to produce the results or remember what they were.

Last week, he continued to maintain that the Hayworths were once operating an illegal septic system. He contends that portions of a separate failing system were covered over in order to mask noncompliance.

However, in Kennard’s opinion, this is irrelevant, because he believes, failing or otherwise, the existing 1,000-gallon septic tank is too small for the home.

Septic inspectors Marvin “Junior” Cody and Ed Brown, in separate phone interviews, confirmed that the tank was 1,000 gallons, but both said that was more than sufficient for a house that size. Neither could recall any evidence of septic failure at the property.

In limbo

Along State Road 135 South, another property sits vacant. This one is not yet condemned, although no one is allowed to live there.

“I used to defend John (Kennard),” property owner Susan Showalter said. “We worked together teaching environmentally friendly septic practices. I’m the last person to pollute.”

She said Kennard appeared on her rental property after receiving a complaint from a tenant about a failing septic system. According to Showalter, he found standing water in a hole downhill from the dwelling. Based on this, Kennard declared the septic system to be failing.

Kennard disagrees. He said it wasn’t just water.

“There is a 4-foot (expletive) hole in her back yard,” Kennard said. “We can drive out there and look at it.”

That disagreement kicked off correspondence between health department employees and Showalter that demonstrates how confusing interactions with the agency can be.

In an email dated Nov. 22, 2011, environmental health specialist Reeves told Showalter that she could use an alternative septic method called “pump and haul.” An alarm notifies property owners when the septic tank is full, so a contractor can pump the tank.

As evidenced by receipts from Reed Excavating, Showalter immediately implemented this method.

On Feb. 8, 2012, Kennard testified against Showalter in a small-claims hearing related to a rental disagreement. He claimed that Showalter’s septic system was failing and that she had ignored all orders to rectify the situation.

“She had not paid her bill, so the alarm had been removed,” Kennard said.

Showalter said payment was delayed when the bill was misplaced in a file related to the case. Receipts show that the issue was resolved within a few days of the hearing.

A month later, an email from Reeves said Showalter could return to using the pump and haul method, but per an order from Kennard, she had to totally replace her septic system immediately.

Showalter responded with a request for a specific timeline. About a month later, she sent another message demanding a response. An email from Reeves then stated that Kennard will no longer allow the pump-and-haul method.

The property has been vacant since 2010.

According to the final email in the series, as long as it is not occupied and Showalter does nothing, it will not be officially condemned.

She said the health department has refused to approve proposed changes to the property.

The Hayworths remain in a similarly confusing situation. The family sued the health department, demanding a reversal of the condemnation order.

On June 24, 2013, Judge Joseph Meek ruled that the family had no standing to bring suit because the county had not actually taken the land nor deprived the family of its value.

However, the health department has since contacted the family about leaving the house. The Hayworths have once again filed suit.

Since Aug. 15, 2011, the family has spent more than $20,000 in legal fees and inspection costs.

All they really want to do is live in their home, Amanda Hayworth said.

“We’ll spend every dollar that we have fighting this,” Lowell Hayworth said.