Columnist Steve Pokin looked at a house that was for sale and saw this from the backyard. It took a while for him to get info from the assessor's office on who owns it and if the land is being developed. (Photo by Steve Pokin)

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A few weeks ago, my wife and I went to look at a house listed for sale on North National Avenue. Our son is looking to buy a house — in fact, he has one under contract now — and we were helping by scouting houses in advance.

Actually, our preferred area was south of Grand Avenue, where, unfortunately, there are far fewer houses listed for under $150,000.

Nevertheless, behind the house we looked at on North National, between Locust Street and Pacific Street, was a parcel of say, an acre or two. It was fenced off with heavy equipment on it. Dirt had been moved; the site was being prepared for some type of construction.

Here's the backyard of a house on National Avenue that was listed for sale. In the other direction was a construction site. If you're looking at a house, you might want to find out what's being built right behind it. (Photo by Steve Pokin)

We weren't that impressed with the house. Nevertheless, I was curious enough to go to the Greene County Assessor's website to discover who owned the property and then try to find out what was being built there, right along the railroad tracks.

Here's a tip to those looking to buy a home: If there are vacant lots near the home you plan to make an offer on, find out who the owner is and then see if plans have been revealed on what will be built there.

Who knows? It might be a 7 Brew Drive-thru Coffee.

To my surprise, the assessor's website was of no immediate use. Wherever I clicked on the area being developed on the online map I received the same message: “No parcel record found or access is denied.”

Columnist Steve Pokin was surprised that he was unable to get information on a construction site behind a house that was listed for sale. Greene County Assessor Brent Johnson explained why and provided the information. (From the Greene County Assessor's Office Public GIS viewer)

I've come across this a few times before. The part of that message that makes me suspicious is the phrase “or access is denied.”

It makes me wonder:

Why would I be denied access?

Who else is has been denied?

Is there some type of cover-up going on?

Is this a UFO crash site?

If you need help, says assessor, call office

I called Greene County Assessor Brent Johnson and his explanation is far more mundane than I imagined.

Eight parcels were purchased in May and September of 2023. They were combined into one. The owner is Valiant Management Group LLC, 1838 E. Bennett St.

Because the parcels were combined, the land was given a new “parcel ID” number. That new ID number has not yet been integrated into the online records and the public GIS map viewer.

“I am looking into fixing that,” Johnson tells me.

If anyone else has a question about getting information from the assessor's website, Johnson says, call the office at (417) 868-4101 or email

What's being built there?

“Duplexes,” says a man who was working on the site when I stopped by Tuesday, May 15. He gave me his name.

But I won't name him because to confirm the information, I called the company. An employee there said the company is not currently willing to announce publicly what is being built at that location.

This is Pokin Around column No. 182.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Hauxeda. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin