BONIFAY — Holmes County Development Commissioners discussed the Lonnie Lindsey property and the Interstate Industrial Building Tuesday, Oct. 2, only to come to the conclusion that they are still at square one — waiting on contracts from prospective buyers.
The 4.2 acres of property on Lonnie Lindsey Drive which is owned by the HCDC was to sell to James Sellers for $6,400, but when Panhandle Forestry mistakenly accessed the property to harvest timber, Sellers reduced his offer to $4,000 and the commissioners voted at the Sept. 4 meeting to decline the lesser amount.
This month, no further word had been heard from Sellers.
“Where does this leave us?” asked board chairman Bud Riviere.
“Is he still interested in the property?” vice chairman Tim Wells asked.
“I’ve had no contact with Mr. Sellers since the last meeting,” Riviere said.
“I think we’re back to Square One,” Wells said. “If he is still interested in the property, he needs to contact us.”
“At this time, I think we just have to wait and see what he wants to do,” said board member Mike Alvis.
Alvis said he was told by Sellers that Panhandle Forestry had offered $1,000 in compensation to Sellers for damage to the property, and asked if the company shouldn’t pay the $1,000 to the commission.
Administrative assistant Elaine Mayfield said she had been contacted by the forestry company, who offered $1,500 for access through the land, but she had denied the offer since she did not have the authority to approve such action.
Commissioner Shirley Hawthorne suggested that in the future, the board require contracts be in writing before bringing the matter before the commission for approval, since there had not been a written contract for the $6,400 amount which was originally approved as the selling price by the commissioners.
In the case of the Interstate Industrial Building, Alvis told commissioners that the HCDC should be seeing a contract to purchase that property by Oct. 12 from Qualico Steel Company, a company owned by John Downs.
The commission had received a letter of intent to purchase from Qualico Steel, but the letter expired on Sept. 13. The new contract is expected to have some additional requirements, including exclusion from taxes and having a roadway paved by the HCDC, Alvis said.
The purchase price listed for the property on the letter of intent was $602,500 for the 9.34 acres and buildings. Commissioner Alvis also serves as Qualico Steel’s real estate broker on the purchase.
“I am ready to tender my resignation from the board,” Alvis said. “I don’t want anything to stand in the way of bringing jobs to Holmes County.”
Qualico Steel is supposed to bring 25 jobs with the new business, and expects it could hire as many as 100 people by next year, Alvis said.
“So we’re basically at the same place with this deal, waiting on a contract,” Riviere said.
Alvis said that was correct, but he expects the commissioners to have a contract in hand on Oct. 12.
“Hasn’t this been ongoing for two years?” asked commissioner Frances Williams.
Alvis said Qualico Steel’s interest in the property has waxed and waned over the years.
The commissioners also decided to hold a special meeting on Oct. 23 to discuss the Raper Property.
The HCDC has been invited to essentially loan a property owner money in exchange for receiving 60-plus acres free and clear, Riviere explained.
Commissioner Sandy Spear said she felt that she was not well enough informed about the Raper Property proposal to make any kind of decision, and asked if a special meeting to discuss the deal could be arranged. “I know some of us are new on the board and we would like to have more information, at least I know I would,” she said.
The board also heard a proposal from the Regions Bank financial advisor team, led by Jacob McKelvey. The board is considering moving its portfolio to a different money management firm. Next month representatives from Edward Jones will attend the Nov. 13 meeting and make a similar proposal for the board to consider.