Commission agree to reopen evidence in Fish Hollow lawsuit

By Colin Willard, Advocate Staff Writer
Posted 3/20/24

Commission agree to reopen evidence in Fish Hollow lawsuit

BY Colin Willard

ADVOCATE Staff Writer

VIENNA — The Maries County Commission agreed last week …

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Commission agree to reopen evidence in Fish Hollow lawsuit


VIENNA — The Maries County Commission agreed last week to ask the court to reopen evidence in the Fish Hollow lawsuit following a meeting with Prosecuting Attorney Tony Skouby and researcher Patrick Kliethermes.

The lawsuit concerning a petition by owners of the land surrounding the Fish Hollow Access to the Gasconade River to close the access went to trial last October. In January, Judge John Beger released his ruling declaring Maries Road 306, which leads to Fish Hollow, public land along with the boat ramp and hammerhead turnaround at the access. The judgment is not final until the county completes a survey of the area and submits it to the court.

In February, the county had Show-Me Land Surveying conduct the survey. During a meeting earlier this month, the company’s owner T.C. James informed the commission that he had completed the survey. He also told the commission about a researcher who had told him about finding a 1936 right-of-way deed from the landowners to the county for what would become Maries Road 306.

Kliethermes, the researcher who found the document, came March 14 to talk with the commission and Skouby. He said every county has a road right-of-way book, but many of the older documents were never recorded. When he heard about the Fish Hollow lawsuit through the newspaper, he looked into the area at the Missouri State Archives at the James C. Kirkpatrick State Information Center in Jefferson City.

“I knew the timeframe because in the 1930 plat book, (the road) is not there,” Kliethermes said.

The deed was on a microfilm document at the state archives. During the 1990s, a state program helped local governments digitize their records on microfilm. Many agencies later destroyed the original copies or donated them to a local historical society. Kliethermes said the original copy of the deed is in the Historical Society of Maries County (HSMC) research room in the courthouse basement.

Skouby expressed frustration about the movement of the deed.

“I know (Recorder of Deeds Mark Buschmann) looked in all of our books and I looked,” he said. “It is not where it’s supposed to be.”

Kliethermes told Skouby that the deed had made its way down to HSMC.

“So we gave away our public records to somebody?” Skouby said. “Pardon my French, but what kind of (expletive) is that? A lawyer’s first duty when it comes to a real estate problem is to go look everything up at the recorder of deeds office, which is where all the records are supposed to be.”

Kliethermes said he had informed the petitioners of the deed’s existence about one year ago. Skouby said he found it “troubling” that they decided to proceed with the case while knowing about the document.

“They didn’t tell us anything,” Skouby said.

The commission and Skouby agreed that they appreciated Kliethermes for bringing the deed to their attention.

Skouby said he had already begun writing the request to reopen evidence in the case, but the decision was ultimately up to the commission because they are the respondents.

“The judge doesn’t have to let it in, but it just goes to bolster our side that it is a public road,” he said.

The caveat Skouby advised the commission to consider is that if evidence reopens, then the petitioners will also get an opportunity to submit more evidence. However, if the petitioners appeal the case, then the commission would not be able to enter the additional evidence for that court’s judgment.

“I think you need to put it in,” Eastern District Commissioner Doug Drewel said. “If you don’t put it in now, it can’t go in.”

After some discussion, the commission agreed to have Skouby request that the court reopen evidence in the case.