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County Board supervisor charged with trespassing

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A Pierce County Board of Supervisors member is scheduled to make his first court appearance next month on charges of trespassing.

The court date for L. Ron Bartels, 70, N987 545th St., Bay City, is 9 a.m., Monday, June 3. The charge is listed as forfeiture, meaning if found guilty, Bartels would only have to pay a fine.

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The reports date back to July 6, 2011, when 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 using 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 is when she saw a contractor's truck leaving Bartels' property by not using the easement. Deputies reached Bartels and he told them he is working on clearing the growth from the easement and will use the easement from now on. Deputies told him, if he trespassed onto the neighbor's property, he will 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 ended up being the only proof the neighbor had and therefore no citations were issued.

Deputies contacted Bartels, who said he had been out of town all weekend and therefore could not be trespassing. He also told deputies this issue was difficult because questions abounded about where the easement was. Contact was made with the neighbor and she said there should be no issue because it's all on record with the Register of Deeds.

The neighbor then drove a deputy to the property in question. She showed the deputy a mowed section of grass right along a tree line, she claimed Bartels or one his sons did 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.

Bartels was elected to the county board in 2010. 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, Board of Health and Solid Waste committees.

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