County Board member guilty of trespassing, case to be dismissed in a year if he completes terms
A Pierce County Board of Supervisors member was found guilty of trespassing during a trial by judge last Tuesday in Pierce County Circuit Court.
L. Ron Bartels, 70, N987 545th St., Bay City, was found guilty by Pepin/Buffalo Circuit Court Judge James Duvall. Bartells was ordered to pay a $515 fine, which was stayed for one year.
He was charged last April, stemming from an incident in July 2011.
A neighbor called sheriff’s deputies, saying Bartels was trespassing on her property. The neighbor explained Bartels owns land near hers and has an easement through her property to access his land, which is landlocked. The neighbor said Bartels is not using the easement and instead uses her property. She even accused Bartels, or someone for him, of mowing a trail through her field to access his land without her knowledge or permission.
The neighbor said the final straw in what drove her to call law enforcement was when she saw a contractor’s truck leaving Bartels’ property by not using the easement. Deputies reached Bartels, and he told them he was working on clearing the growth from the easement and would use the easement from then on. Deputies told him if he trespassed onto the neighbor’s property, he would be cited.
Three days later, the neighbor called again, saying she had proof of Bartels' trespassing due to a trail camera photo. The date on the camera said July 6, but the neighbor was unable to confirm that date. The photo was the only proof the neighbor had and therefore no citations were issued.
Deputies reached Bartels, who said he had been out of town all weekend and therefore could not have trespassed. He also told deputies this issue was difficult because questions abounded about where the easement was. The neighbor was contacted and she said it is recorded at the Register of Deeds, so therefore there should be no issue.
The neighbor drove a deputy to the property in question. She showed the deputy a mowed section of grass along a tree line. She claimed Bartels or one of his sons mowed the grass and then pointed out the easement path he should have been using. Upon seeing the easement path, the deputy noticed foot tracks but no vehicle tracks while the mowed line had deep tracks in that section.
Duvall also ordered Bartels to stay on his side of the line for one year. If he does so, the case will be dismissed.
Bartels has served on the County Board since 2010 and is up for re-election this spring. He represents District 14, which is made up of the Towns of Hartland, Isabelle, Trenton, Ward 2 and the Village of Bay City. He sits on the Building, Highway, Human Services, Information Services, Solid Waste and Board of Health committees.