doughboy statue (copy)

Rusty Lynn, of Gilland Memorial Works, climbs a ladder to unsheathe the rifle of Emmitsburg’s “doughboy” statue, which was placed on a new limestone pedestal in March.

Emmitsburg’s bill for repairs to the town’s “doughboy” statue has gone from zero to more than $20,000.

The statue depicts a World War I soldier with a rifle in one hand and a grenade in the other. It stands at 601 W. Main St. in Emmitsburg.

The doughboy was erected in 1927. The driver of a pickup truck hit the statue in June, knocking the doughboy off its pedestal. The repaired statue went back up in March.

The driver involved in the single-vehicle crash was Rebecca Irene Iser, according to Town Clerk Cathy Willets. Attempts to reach Iser on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Emmitsburg’s commissioners approved $40,000 in town money to repair the statue. They chose Gettysburg-based sculptor Gary Casteel to re-solder the statue and find a new limestone base.

The town of Emmitsburg paid Casteel, expecting the driver’s insurance company to reimburse the entire cost.

Town Manager Dave Haller said the process was rushed due to pressure from local veterans groups, and the town obtained only $15,000 from the insurance company.

“The mayor and the town attorney made the decision to take the $15,000 guaranteed for property damage,” Haller said. “I didn’t truly support that.”

Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs doesn’t think the decision was rushed at all. The local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, which were eager to have the statue fixed, “were very patient with us,” Briggs said.

Briggs said the town government wanted to avoid the risk of losing any further compensation.

“We were led to believe that [$15,000] was the top amount we’d get,” he said.

Taking the $15,000 payout wasn’t the mayor’s decision to make. The town’s commissioners must approve expenditures.

Town Commissioner Joseph Ritz III said the commissioners were pressured to accept the $15,000 instead of pursuing full compensation.

“We were basically forced to vote last month at a closed session, and my main argument was Dave Haller stated it would be in our best interest to take the money and run, essentially, because we couldn’t prove that the statue belonged to us,” Ritz said.

The closed session was held immediately after the town’s April meeting. Briggs did not attend the April commissioners meeting or closed session. He said he does not know how the proposal was ultimately presented to the commissioners.

Tim O’Donnell, president of the town commissioners, declined to comment on what was discussed in the closed session.

Following Maryland’s Open Meetings Act, the commissioners announced the need for a closed session at their April meeting. They voted unanimously to approve the closed session to discuss “potential litigation.”

The law also requires public bodies to produce summaries of closed sessions in the minutes of the next public meeting.

A summary must include “a listing of the topics of discussion, persons present, and each action taken during the session.”

Emmitsburg did not acknowledge the April closed session at its May meeting on Monday night. The minutes of Monday’s meeting are expected to be presented at the May 16 town meeting.

Haller agreed that the summary of the closed meeting should be public.

Accepting the $15,000 payout means the town could no longer sue the driver for further reimbursement, according to Haller, who suggested suing the driver as an option.

“It may be worth our while to sue the actual person [who] hit the statue, thereby forcing her to sue her insurance company,” he said.

The town will likely dip into its reserves to pay for the repairs instead, Haller said. The expense will be part of the town’s fiscal 2017 budget.

Michael Hillman, president of the Emmitsburg Historical Society, provided Ritz and The Frederick News-Post with a copy of a deed for the land the statue stands on.

The deed, signed in 1929, transferred the land and all of its improvements — including the statue — to the “burgess and council” of Emmitsburg.

According to Haller, the town would need to have a court verify that information.

Ritz said the town should not have to pay someone to complete that process when it already has a copy of the deed in hand.

“The citizens of Emmitsburg should not be responsible for paying for the negligence of another individual,” Ritz said, referring to the driver.

The commissioners decided to table the ownership issue until their next town meeting on May 16.

Follow Sylvia Carignan on Twitter: @SylviaCarignan.

(12) comments

DickD

You do not agree to taking the insurance money and then sue the driver as the insurance company is acting as the agent of the insured. You can take it to court and it would be dismissed, but if you had of refused the $15,000, you could have sued for the full amount plus any legal fees. But I am not an attorney and you should have had legal advice before agreeing to anything.

MrHitshed

You can't watch TV without seeing ads that tell you how insurance companies operate. They deny claims that should be paid, forcing victims to sue. Sometimes they settle claims by making offers that are far below what is owed. It sounds like that is what happened here.

So are the people who run Emmitsburg not savvy enough to understand how insurance works? Why did they settle for only $15K. And how about the city's own insurance on its property. Isn't there coverage for the damage to the statue? You know the city has insurance on its own buildings and equipment.

This sounds a lot like Mayberry. Nice people, but not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

DickD

If the company insuring the town is aware the town accepted $15,000 for what should have been "called full payment", it is doubtful they would pay the town more. But it certainly is worthwhile to ask.

kshir

The most dismal town in Frederick county continues to showcase it's clumsy, out of date & good ole boy governing. Nice job, Haller. You're town speaks volumes about you and your council minions. Maybe the closed door meetings are where you all get a pat on the back, 'cause that's the only appreciation you people warrant.

public-redux

"The most dismal town in Frederick county ..."

Was the vote close? Which town came in second?

fjkdavis

Interesting opinion, and not bold enough to sign a name. Over the last 10-15 years Emmitsburg has made great strides in both physical and financial improvements. As a live-long resident i"m proud of our town and it's leadership. Are they gong to make a mistake now and then, they sure are but overall they do a fine job. Sorry for your clouded vision. Frank Davis

fjkdavis

MrHitshed, Please share with me where that "perfect town" is? I would like to visit . Or is it just a fascination that you dream about while you criticizes others? Frank Davis.

public-redux

Welcome to Duloc
Such a perfect town
Here we have some rules
Let us lay them down
Don't make waves
Stay in line
And we'll get along fine.
Duloc is a Perfect Place
Please keep off of the grass
Shine your shoes
Wipe your... face.
Duloc is, Duloc is,
Duloc is a Perfect—
Place!

MrHitshed

Hi, Frank. I never said that there was a perfect town. I'm sure there isn't. All towns do well in some things and poorly in others. I thought the fact that the people in charge of the town's finances don't seem to understand why they settled for $15K when the cost to repair the statue wound up being $40K was worth discussing. Sorry if you were offended by my comments, but I don't see how you or any reasonable person would be. Insurance is business, and settling a $40K claim for $15K is bad business. No matter where you go.

richardlyons

Unless of course you are insurer, then paying out $15k on a $40k claim is considered VERY good business.

DickD

As stated in the article, they settled because they were not sure they could prove ownership and they were in a hurry. Haste makes waste.

kshir

You are not a bit sorry for any of the governing decisions made for the town. You ARE part of the problem with this dismal town. The government boasts about the progress of it's water treatment that has been a 20 year issue. NO business has been encouraged to operate on a direct route and heavily trafficked thoroughfare. The town government requires heavy burdens on a prospective businesses. The DOLLAR store is the only business granted access, an immediate statement to traffic that this is as good as it's gets here. Buildings, including ones owned by councilmen & Mayor are in filthy condition. Simply solutions such as road side trash sits for weeks. Rt 140, Heroin Hwy, has one assigned police presence ON OCCASION. There is nothing but fried chicken dinners for resident activity. Roadways, sidewalks and a desperately needed pedestrian bridge on N.Seton avenue is deferred to the STATE. This reply is not the first criticism of this town, Emmitsburg is regarded as a nasty little town across the state. I am a long time resident and I wish it would provide its residents with the golden opportunity it has the potential for. Even the real estate value lags embarrassingly behind the rest of the county. Who Am I? Everyone NOT born to Emmitsburg.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominen criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.