That's just so Trumbull County.
A friend of mine said that to me recently regarding a situation we both found humorous. Some things, however, that are ''just so Trumbull County'' are not as humorous.
Last Wednesday, I sat in a hallway outside a courtroom in Warren Municipal Court waiting for a hearing to start for Berry Meadows. Meadows was accused of felony theft by deception.
After almost an hour of waiting, Meadows' attorney announced to those of us gathered that the charge had been dismissed without prejudice, meaning that the charge can be re-filed if necessary. On Thursday, the same charge in Niles Municipal Court was dismissed.
Meadows is not some hardened criminal or con-artist. Meadows is a businessman who has had the temerity to speak against the Trumbull County Health Department.
The health department has created a situation in this county where only one of two sand filtration septic systems can be installed. Both systems are made by the same manufacturer.
Meadows, owner of Digging Dirt LLC., has a septic system that he believes would save homeowners $3,000 per installation and would produce a clean effluent. He and his wife started looking into how the health department works and soon saw things that raised questions. They made public records requests and posted the results on their Facebook page, Trumbull County Septic News. They attended meetings and confronted officials including Health Commissioner James Enyeart and posted videos of the meetings on Facebook.
One of the records requested showed the possibility that the sheriff's son may have gotten biased treatment for a non-compliant system.
The sheriff's office then brought a felony charge of theft by deception against Meadows. This charge was brought based on a civil claim and was in the process of being handled civilly. The sheriff said that he didn't initiate the criminal case but one of the plaintiffs, Angel Bennet, was quoted in the Tribune on May 30 as saying that she never called the Sheriff's office, but that ''They called me and asked if I could come in.''
The second charge in the Niles Municipal court was for a situation where a civil suit hadn't even been filed, and again in that situation the Sheriff's Department contacted the homeowner.
Although the charges have been dismissed, the Meadows family has endured humiliation and financial loss.
So, now, what do we do with this? Some folks would say it is better to just keep our mouths shut - that we can't change anything anyway so we should just give up. This is Trumbull County, after all, and that is just how it is.
Those folks are wrong. The shenanigans in this county are robbing us of our freedom. Ronald Reagan once said, ''Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation.''
It was 236 years ago when the Declaration of Independence was signed. Those men who signed that document pledged their lives, their fortunes and their honor to declare our nation's independence. They didn't do that so that all these years later our community would be cowering in fear of retaliation by a small group of bureaucrats.
As the Declaration of Independence was signed, Benjamin Franklin is supposed to have said, '''If we don't all hang together, then surely, we shall all hang separately.'' We should heed those words today.
As individuals, we can be intimidated and silenced, but if we ''hang together'' and work together to fight the corruption in this county, it will become more difficult for them to silence us.
Over the last few years, I've realized that I have a choice. I can stay on my own little two acres in Farmington and watch my freedom being taken away bit by bit. I can hope that somehow things in this county get better - that somebody does something - or I can be one of those somebodies. I can join Berry and Deanna Meadows and try to make a difference.
I choose to make a difference. Who's with me?
Yoder is a Farmington resident. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.