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June 25, 2024

Shelby County Facing FOIA Lawsuit Resulting From Dive Team Commander’s Refusal To Comply With Request For Public Records

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On June 5, 2024

Shelby C0. (ECWd) –

A recent investigation by county officials resulted in the recovery of over $24,000.00 of donated funds for the Shelby County Dive team. That investigation resulted in the discovery that even though people wrote checks payable to the Shelby County Dive team, they were deposited into an account not owned by the government or any dive team. The details of that matter were covered in this article.

We submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for specific Dive Team related funds as those are public records.  The request included the following:

  • A copy of all receipts for funds donated to the dive team and not turned in to the County Treasure in the last three years.
  • Any documents that would reflect cash on hand in the building being used by the dive team in the last three years.
  • A copy of all receipts for purchases made with funds in the control of the dive team or any designated person rather than the county treasurer in the last three years

As outlined in Article VIII Section 1c, the records requested are public records that normally would be available for inspection by the public according to law, which is our Freedom of Information Act.

1(c)  Reports and records of the obligation, receipt and use of public funds of the State, units of local government and school districts are public records available for inspection by the public according to law.

Rather than provide the records requested the current Dive Commander, Austin Prichard chose a path of resistance rather than transparency.

“The Shelby County Board formed the Shelby County Dive Team in July of 2023, I was appointed to commander on April 11, 2024, therefore I have no records responsive to your request.”

The State’s Attorney informed Prichard of his non-compliant response and directed appropriate action however Prichard has chosen to ignore the legal advice.  The result of his failure to comply with the most basic of our transparency laws is the filing of our FOIA lawsuit.

It needs to be noted, to date in Shelby County, we have never had any issues with FOIA complaints from a single department within the county.

For those who take issue with our filing this lawsuit for public records, we are not the first to go to court for public records in Shelby County.  The Decatur Harold & Review sued the Clerk and County Board several years ago for a copy of the executive session records of an illegal meeting. We covered that matter in a two-part article found at this link.

Contrary to the local propaganda being pushed by Jake Cole, husband of County Board member Carol Cole, this suit has nothing to do with the Dive Team as a whole nor is it an attack on their operations as a dive team.  If the select few local drama queens want to call this an attack on the Dive Commander, we can accept that as he is the one responsible for the improper denial of public records.

A copy of our lawsuit can be downloaded at this link or viewed below.

Dive Team FOIA lawsuit






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  • Waterman
    Posted at 13:39h, 05 June Reply

    Why is Shelby County so corrupt?

    • Droopy: Master Sergeant
      Posted at 13:36h, 06 June Reply

      Because they have been allowed to be. When some board members and the public praise the corruption why would it change. Then local idiots like Terry Hutchcraft and Jake Cole and the likes relentlessly attack and lie about those who call it out. Sadly the majority in the public who are glad there is finally exposure don’t want to speak up because the crazies who attend board meetings will attack them.

      Been watching Shelby county for years and it is a sad state of affairs down there.

  • Half bubble off level
    Posted at 09:58h, 11 June Reply

    It’s Shelby County First pushing their half truths and misinformation.
    Their hand picked slate of County Board candidates, Shelby County United, will be used to keep the good old boys and girls form of government alive a well.

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