Boswell Questions Demolition

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Lauderdale County's District 5 supervisor, Ray Boswell, says he noticed last Friday that a county-owned house on Sweet Gum Bottom Road at the site of the industrial park had literally been torn apart.

It's in his district but Boswell says he wasn't consulted.

"Apparently, somebody told somebody to go out here and tear an outside building out behind the house down, with no authorization," said Boswell. "And then apparently this house gets torn down and nobody wants to take credit for telling anybody to tear this down. It hasn't been put on the board minutes. It was a perfectly good house. The taxpayers of this county paid $150,000 for this house. I want some answers and the public wants some answers."

Later, county administrator Rex Hiatt attempted to provide the answers. He said the house was seriously vandalized over a year ago, wasn't worth repairing, and was slated to be torn down anyway.

"The sheriff's department needed a storage building and shed for the tractors for the inmate work farm and they asked me if they could have the material for it out of the house to build the barn and I told them I didn't know of any use the county had," Hiatte said, "and when the county got ready to tear it down they could have the material."

Apparently the sheriff's department interpreted that as permission to use that lumber rather than buying it commercially. A crew of inmates did the labor.

"I personally didn't see any reason to leave that house there since the county had a need for it, to use it and all the materials are going for county purposes," said the administrator.

Both Hiatt and board president Craig Hitt admitted Monday, in hindsight, that it might have been wise to seek board action first.