Mediation Session Resolves Issue between Starke County Sheriff, Merit Board

Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen

The issue between Sheriff Oscar Cowen and Starke County Merit Board President Ken Arnett seems to have been resolved. A mediation session was held last Friday. Former Starke County Circuit Court Judge Marvin McLaughlin conducted the session and reported back to the county council Monday night.

“All the parties showed up and brought their common sense,” McLaughlin said. “We got an agreement that took care of the whole lawsuit. We also established a procedure for settling all the disputes and the council and courts should not be bothered again.”

The suit that was objected to by Arnett was an attempt by the Sheriff to reconstitute the merit board. Arnett looked upon that as a way to remove him from the board. The agreement in mediation established staggered terms for the members of the board. Arnett’s term will end December 31st of this year. At that time, the Sheriff could either reappoint him, or select someone else to fill the position.

Also in the mediation, the Sheriff’s Merit Board was legitimized and all actions taken since 1971 were sanctioned. A procedure for conducting meetings was also established.

Council President David Pearman was relieved that the matter was settled without going to court.

“I’m glad you guys brought this to a conclusion. From the information we got, there was a lot of head-butting going on in those meetings. Overall, I think the meetings will be a lot better moving forward,” Pearman said.

Both Sheriff Cowen and Merit Board President Ken Arnett thanked Judge McLaughlin for helping settle the dispute.