Judge Orders Highway 45 Property Cleanup
FAYETTEVILLE — A Washington County Circuit Court judge agreed last week to order the owner of property at 120 S. Highway 45 in Lincoln to clean it up in 30 days or the city and county would be allowed to come in and clean it up for her.
Washington County and the city of Lincoln filed a joint lawsuit Jan. 3 against Robert R. Daughtery, trustee of the Robert R. Daughtery Trust, and Debbie Cain, who is purchasing the property along Highway 45 from the trust.
Officials say Cain has repeatedly failed to clean up the property and that it is in violation of city and county ordinances. Cain has 2.85 acres, with part of the land in the city of Lincoln and part in the county.
In addition to a clean-up order, Judge Doug Martin agreed to two other requests made by Lincoln City Attorney Steve Zega at an April 24 hearing at Washington County Courthouse.
“I know none of this is easy but it needs to be done.”
Zega asked for permission for the city or county to go on Cain’s property two times. One would be to allow a contractor to enter the property during the 30-day period to give an estimate on the costs to clean up the land.
If Cain does not adhere to the cleanup order, then a contractor would be allowed to go on site after the 30 days to clean up the property.
Zega told Martin he was making the requests to go on the property because “we don’t think Ms. Cain will follow this order.”
County Attorney Brian Lester said he agreed with Zega’s request.
Daugherty’s attorney, Wade Wright, also said he had no objections to a cleanup order and an order to allow a contractor to come on the property.
“The Robert Daughtery Trust feels its interests are in line with the city and county, at least at this point,” Wright told the court.
Daugherty filed a separate lawsuit against Cain on Jan. 12, claiming the contract for her to purchase the property from him is in default for failure to make payments and failure to maintain the property. The complaint said she owed him about $70,000 as of Jan. 12.
Cain was not in the courtroom during the hearing, which started after 9 a.m. and lasted about 5 minutes, but she came in after it was finished and everyone had left.
Cain, representing herself, missed the deadline by five days in submitting a response to the lawsuit filed against her. Martin signed an order Feb. 28 granting a motion for default judgment against Cain because she did not respond in the time required by the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure.
Cain last week said the city and county “need to go after the guy putting the junk there and not me.” She claimed that a man who had been living with her was the one bringing vehicles and other debris onto her property. She said she’s tried to have people clean up her property and remove the vehicles but he would not allow it.
“I asked him not to put things there and he wouldn’t comply with it,” Cain said, standing in the courtroom after the hearing.
Cain said the man is no longer with her and she believes she will be able to get the property cleaned up within 30 days.
“I agree with them 100 percent. It needs to be cleaned up,” Cain said. “It was a beautiful piece of land.”
Jim Lewis, who lives near Cain and has filed numerous complaints about the condition of the property for years, said people in Lincoln will be pleased the property is going to be cleaned up.
Lewis, who attended court, said he was appreciative of the city’s and county’s efforts to pursue the issue. Lewis also thanked Joel Maxwell, a member of Washington County Quorum Court, for getting involved.
“I know none of this is easy but it needs to be done,” Lewis said.
Steve Smith with Southwestern Electric Power Co., talks to kindergarten students at Lincoln Elementary School about his job and about the different tools he uses in his work. Smith was part of the school’s first “Touch a Truck” event on Friday. More than 25 vehicles and trucks were parked outside on the school’s parking lots for students to see, touch and learn about. The goal was to expose students to different careers and transportation for those careers. Vehicles on site included tractors, dump trucks, bucket trucks, fire engine ladder truck, concrete truck, ambulance, police K9 vehicle and a farm truck.