Virden, board to look into details of auto impoundment

Robert Smith

Osage County commissioners and the sheriff Monday agreed to conduct fact-finding in regard to a complaint regarding an automobile impoundment last Friday in Avant. Nona Roach, who is involved with the recovery of the Avant community from severe flooding last spring, offered details to county officials about an incident in which an automobile belonging to an older couple was impounded even though it was on property they owned and not causing any traffic problem.

“We have a concern that this happened in our town,” Roach told county officials during the citizen input portion of the meeting of the county Board of Commissioners. “We just want to know where we stand on this, and how we can stop this from happening.”

Roach provided commissioners with a written statement regarding her encounter Friday afternoon with a deputy sheriff at a property owned by Margaret and John Long. The Longs attended the county board meeting along with Roach and voiced their concerns. Roach’s written statement explains that the home the Longs own in Avant flooded last May 21 and they do not currently live there. An unregistered automobile belonging to them was sitting in the driveway of the property, in front of the garage.

Roach said in her statement that she explained to the deputy that Mrs. Long had just spent 14 hours in an emergency room and was unable to walk on an injured knee. Roach reportedly asked the deputy what was wrong. She said in her statement that the deputy told her “that he was here to clean up the town and that they had let things slide because of the flood.” Roach said she told the deputy that FEMA had established a 500-day flood recovery period for Avant, and the mayor “had abated all permits and penalties.”

Roach said the deputy told her “that he didn’t answer to the mayor.”

Randall Jones, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, told Roach that he and his fellow commissioners would need to become better informed before responding.

“We’ll try to find out some information,” Jones said.

Margaret Long said she had looked around Avant, and it appeared several vehicles were untagged, but her vehicle might have been easier for the deputy to reach.

“I told the deputy, I guess my car was taken because it was in a clean driveway,” Long said.

Following the meeting, Sheriff Eddie Virden met briefly with Roach and told her that he would look into the situation. He commented that he expects his deputies to follow the law, but also to exercise common sense.

Virden told Roach it was unlikely the deputy was at the Longs’ property without someone having made a call or report of some kind, and he pledged to sort things out.

“Everybody means something to me,” Virden said, assuring Roach he was concerned about the situation.