By Bob Steenson, firstname.lastname@example.org
A Floyd County man has been fined $550 plus court costs after being found guilty of two county citations for having cattle running at large.
The hearing for Bill Arlen Vorhes, age 68, of rural Marble Rock, was held in magistrate court Monday, and represents the latest in a long history of complaints about cattle running at large regarding Vorhes and his sister.
Last month, Vorhes’ sister, Jean Louis Westendorf, pleaded guilty to two instances of having livestock at large, and 10 other charges were dismissed. She was fined $375 on each of the charges, for a total fine of $750, plus court costs for six of the charges.
The charges for both Vorhes and Westendorf were originally charged as simple misdemeanors, but Assistant County Attorney Randall Tilton asked the court to change the charges to civil infractions as violations of a county ordinance against having livestock running at large.
Tilton said that over the years there have been many hundreds of complaints about cattle at large by the Vorhes family’s neighbors.
In August 2017, when Floyd County supervisors passed the ordinance against animals at large, complaints against the Vorhes family were cited as one of the reasons for the need for the ordinance.
At that time, Bill Vorhes told the supervisors that here had been incidents where people had purposefully let his cattle out to get him in trouble.
Vorhes, who represented himself in magistrate’s court Monday, had originally requested a jury trial on the citations, but when they were changed from misdemeanor charges to civil infractions the right to a jury trial was removed.
At the time of the Westendorf hearing, Assistant County Attorney Tilton said he recommended the change to streamline the process and because under a civil infraction any fine would go to the county, instead of most of it going to the state.
“It isn’t state law, it is a county ordinance. It is enforced almost strictly by the county sheriff’s department,” Tilton said at the time.
Vorhes had pleaded not guilty to the citations and asked that the charges be dismissed because he didn’t own the cattle and wasn’t liable for them.
The Floyd County ordinance says charges can be filed against either the owner of livestock running at large or the person “who is primarily responsible for the care and feeding of the livestock.”