'Off-the-grid' family in Breckinridge Co., Ky. lobbies for the return of their children

RADCLIFF, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Breckinridge County Health Department is investigating complaints about a family that boasts about being "off-the-grid."

"People should be able to live as they want without the interference of other people using intimidation tactics to try to get them to conform," Nicole Naugler said.

Joseph and Nicole Naugler own a pet grooming business in Breckinridge County, but at home, their family lives in a makeshift cabin. They grow their own food, and their 11 children are "unschooled.” They say this simple life isn't so simple.

“They've gone after my home and my business life. Even have gone so far ... to make unsubstantiated allegations to government agencies to try to intimidate us in that manner,” Nicole Naugler said.

About a year ago, their children were taken by protective services.

"We got full custody back, and as a matter of fact, the piece of paper we got from the state … CPS … all they found was that we didn't register as home schoolers with the county school board,” Joseph Naugler said.

Now, they're facing more trouble. This time, it’s with the Health Department.

In a letter sent earlier this month, the Department says the family is dumping human waste on the ground, and if they don't stop, they could face criminal charges with the County Attorney's Office.

Environmentalist Jeremy Hinton with the Department says they have been given 20 days to stop. The deadline is next Sunday.

The family claims they have a self-composting toilet, but he says they don't.

“It's cost-effective because you're not using the water, and it's great for composting,” Nicole Naugler said.

The Nauglers say the allegations are unfair. Joseph recorded a phone conversation with the Health Department and sent it to WDRB. In the conversation, the environmentalist, Jeremy Hinton, admits he's never been to their property.

"What factual evidence have you acquired to investigate the claims?” Joseph Naugler said in the call.

“Other than the claims, I have not been on your property," Hinton said.

EPA has now been contacted and may test the water there.

“We've been singled out, we're being harassed, we're being intimidated by what they know to use most and that's government force,” Nichole Naugler said. 

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