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A Desloge woman has taken city officials to task after contending that she and her husband were wrongly accused of stealing city rocks from the corner of their property and then received no return calls from Desloge employees and officeholders who promised to get back with her on the matter.

During the public portion of the Desloge Board of Aldermen meeting held at city hall, long-time city resident, Sherry Greminger, related an incident that occurred last month she described as “the great rock robbery.”

Greminger explained that the city of Park Hills had performed sewer work on Trailwood and Briarwood streets in the early spring, “dumping” around 18 tons of rock at the corner of her property.

“My grandson was so excited to watch the big trucks, so I asked [Park Hills] road foreman Alan Nickleson if the child could play in the rocks after the big trucks left,” she said. “At that time, he told me it was fine. He also asked my husband, Ron, if there was a problem leaving the rock there as he thought it was on our property. He also said they basically wouldn’t need all the rock, so if I had any need of it, to go ahead and use it.”

Greminger related to the board that she and her husband began removing old plants and coping from the east side of their home with the intention of replacing it with a concrete walk.

“Ron said the rock would make a good base for the concrete, so he began hauling some of the surplus rock to our sidewalk site,” she said. “On or about May 11, a worker in a [Desloge] city truck who identified himself as Jason said a neighbor had called city hall and told him that we were stealing rock.

“Ron asked for the name of the caller and that was refused. Ron explained to Jason that the rock was a Park Hills sewer project — not a Desloge project — and he had been told to use the rock if he needed it. Jason replied he would check with Park Hills and get back to us. Ron then called the [Desloge] city administrator and explained what had happened. He told Ron he would check with Park Hills and get back to him.”

Greminger told the board that neither she or her husband received return calls from city officials.

“Ron then drove to our aldermen’s homes,” she said. “One — although his truck was at home and the television was playing — did not answer the door. The other said he would check with city officials and get back to us on the following Monday. Still no calls have been returned.

“Through word of mouth, Alan Nickleson heard of ‘the great rock robbery’ and personally came to our house and informed us that he had received two visits from Desloge city officials about the matter and had told them both times in explicit terms that neither he nor Park Hills had any problem with us using the rock. So, we did and now have a nice sidewalk on the east side of our home.

“My question is this — ‘How difficult is it for any person to own up to his mistake and at least give a return call, if not an apology?’ We would like a return call from someone in an official position to explain why and how this all happened — because this is so silly. We would also like to know if one of our neighbors did indeed call city hall, or if this is just something with our ongoing drainage problem. If so, we’d like to know who this person was.”

Greminger also complained about the city not maintaining an easement that runs by the couple’s property. She told the board that she and her husband had maintained the easement for 40 years until the city refused to grant them a portion of it, so they could put in a garden. She added that a neighbor had recently used his brush hog to mow the easement because it had become so unsightly.

“I’d like for the city to maintain easement — not to depend upon the kindness of a neighbor,” Greminger said. “The weeds were at least 18-inches high, contained poison ivy, bugs and other things I think were dangerous to our health and well-being. If I’m required to maintain my property, it seems to me that the city should be required to maintain its property also.

“By now this ‘great rock robbery’ and the easement mean nothing to me. I have money, I can buy rock and if I must, I can pay someone to mow the city’s property. What matters most is the unprofessional way in which I was treated and the fact that I was accused of being a thief. There’s no excuse for that. I’m not a thief, never have been, never will be. That’s a terrible thing. I’m very upset about that.”

Greminger concluded by saying the couple was still waiting for a solution to a drainage situation her husband had spoken to the board about at its April meeting.

Mayor Dave Kater responded to Greminger saying, “Thank you guys and I hope you still have my number because we’ve talked a couple of times on the telephone.”

Greminger told Kater that the two hadn’t spoken on the phone “in ages.”

“Well, it’s the same number,” he said. “I do have a card up in the front window and I can get you one of those before you leave if you want. I definitely return calls. If you need me at any time, you’re welcome to. They don’t put cellphone numbers in the phonebook.”

“That’s true,” Greminger said.

Alderman Chris Gremminger said, “I want to apologize for not calling you back. I told Ron I wasn’t at the house. I’ve been traveling a lot for work. Been out of town a bunch.”

City Administrator Dan Bryan explained that he had gotten back with Ron Greminger about a suggestion to take care of the problem. Sherry Greminger countered that a suggestion had been made, but nothing had actually been done about it.

“I’ve never met you, ma’am, but I’ve been at your house several times,” Bryan said.

Greminger responded, “But you didn’t get back to us on ‘the great rock robbery,’” she said.

Ron Greminger asked the board if anyone was going to apologize to him for calling him a thief.

“Let me say something here,” Kater said. “He was called by a neighbor, is that correct?”

Sherry Greminger responded, “That’s what we were told.”

Kater continued, “OK, he came to you. Did he say you stole the rock or did he say somebody reported that you were taking the rock?”

Greminger said, “He said that a neighbor said we had taken the rock.”

Kater countered, “Desloge city did not call you a thief, from what I understand, and I will apologize if I have to.”

When Greminger again requested the name of the person who had made the complaint, Kater refused, explaining that confidential information like that comes to the city’s attention from time to time and they will never reveal the name of a complainant.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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