The Washington Times-Herald

January 21, 2010

Landowners affected by I-69 advised

By Emilee Shake

“You have a right to your property. You have a right from any inappropriate invasions without just compensation,” said an Evansville lawyer referring to the Fifth and 14th amendments.

About 50 Daviess County residents gathered at the Gasthof Tuesday night for an informational meeting about property owners’ rights in regards to land on the Interstate 69 route. Lawyer Terry White from Evansville-based Olsen, White and Hambridge law firm was invited to answer questions. The meeting and dinner was sponsored by the Total Financial Group.

TFG investment advisor representative Allen Rumble was born in Washington and has farming property being divided by the proposed I-69 route.

“It’s already a done deal,” Rumble said in regards to the building of Interstate 69. “But I do believe that we need to be compensated fairly for the damages and losses that we’re all going to incur.”

Rumble, who handed out an informational sheet with his cell phone number, said the reason he wanted to have the meeting was to “create a relationship with you so that if you have any questions, you would feel comfortable calling me.” Total Financial Group focuses on helping guide individuals in making financial decisions that affect their futures.

“There is so much more wealth preserved and transferred in proper planning than in all the work you’ve ever done with your hands,” Rumble said, who told a story of how proper planning saved his brother $750,000.

White encouraged landowners fight the government if they aren’t receiving just compensation.

“I would not be afraid of the government. I would not automatically accept their offer right off the bat. I would have my own appraiser come in, someone I trust,” White said.

Several individuals at the meeting voiced questions regarding what the appraisers have told them.

One family was told not to plant on their land this year. Another was told they would be responsible for a road to property that would be left landlocked.

“Remember, appraisers are just technicians,” White said. “If they start telling you stuff about what’s going to happen, they don’t know what’s going to happen. They’ve just been paid to put a value on your property.”

Questions about mineral rights, collateral damage and recourse action were discussed, and landowners were encouraged to get others involved, like hiring appraisers, lawyers and engineers.

“A lot of time your strength doesn’t actually happen in the court room. It happens with a lawsuit file because they’re going to spend more time and money and it’s going to delay them that much more. So they will probably come back and start offering and counteroffering,” White said.

White was up front that fighting the government isn’t cheap, but he said what you ultimately save can be worth it.

“The courthouse is the poor man’s keys. It’s what keeps the government from being so arrogant and taking your rights. Exercise your rights and if you can negotiate along the way something you think you can live with, then that’s fine,” he said.

A message left with a state Department of Transportation representative seeking comment was not returned.