April 22, 2003
CAMDENTON – Documents have been filed in Camden County Circuit Court that could lead to the sale of the Windermere Conference Center on the courthouse steps.
Two contractors, Hicks Construction, Niangua, and A.C. Electrical Systems, Springfield, have filed mechanic’s liens against Windermere, alleging that Windermere has not paid $583,815.60 for work done on the Wilderness Creek expansion project.
Hicks attorneys allege that they are owed $406,902.60. A.C. Electrical says it is owed $176,913.
Hicks and A.C. were two of several subcontractors called in by the general contractor, Walton Construction, to do work at Windermere last fall and early winter.
Walton attorney Michael Textor of Springfield, has notified the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Executive Board of the intent to file mechanic’s liens on behalf of Walton. The amount of Walton’s lien claim will be $774,005.
Windermere officials have refused to communicate with The Pathway about the financial problems. But information was provided by Windermere to the Word&Way.
Word&Way has reported that Windermere owes contractors and consultants a total of $3.7 million. The newspaper attributed the information to Jerry Hill, vice president for Resource Development Inc, of Springfield.
A video produced by RDI for Windermere details information about the expansion project. It calls for the development to include 14 sleeping lodges, a 1,500-set auditorium and an indoor swimming pool and gymnasium. Total cost of the project is $19.5 million.
The work was approved by Windermere’s renegade board of trustees after Windermere and four other MBC institutions voted to change corporation charters and become self-perpetuating. The MBC has filed a lawsuit against the five entities, asking the court to declare the charter changes illegal and return Windermere, the Baptist Home, the Baptist Foundation, Word&Way and Missouri Baptist College back to the MBC.
Attorneys for both sides continue to collect documents and at least one subpoena has been issued. MBC attorneys have subpoenaed Bart Tichenor, a Columbia attorney who recently filed a “friend of the court” brief in behalf of the trustees with the five renegade agencies. Attorneys for the MBC and the five institutions are scheduled soon to give an update report on how well they are progressing with the discovery process to Cole Court Circuit Court Judge Tom Brown.
It is anticipated that a sizeable number of witnesses will be subpoenaed on both sides and depositions, that is testimony under oath taken outside the courtroom as part of the discovery process, are likely to begin in May, according to Michael Whitehead, MBC attorney. Once all documents are collected and depositions are completed a trial date will be set possibly for October or November.
Meanwhile, no work has been done on the Windermere job since early December, 2002. All work was halted when Windermere did not pay contractors as promised.
Windermere issued a news release to Word&Way, stating that the project has been temporarily delayed temporarily due to the restructuring of the financing.
The mechanic’s liens were filed by Hicks and AC Electric on April 7. Both companies have 60 days from the time of the filing of the liens to follow with a lawsuit against Windermere, asking the court to force payment of the debt.
If the matter remains unsettled, the court will set a trial date. Depending upon the case load in Camden County, a trial would be set. A judgment against Windermere would be enforced by a sheriff’s sale on the steps of the Camden County Courthouse.
David Clippard, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) executive director, says he hopes the Windermere situation is not following the pattern of what previously developed at the Baptist Home. D. J. Scott, who served as superintendent of the Baptist Home from 1932 to 1953, reported in a history of the Baptist Home that “… the Home was sold on the Iron County Courthouse steps due to default on loans. The home was purchased by an Ironton citizen and turned over to a reorganized Board of Trustees…”