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Windermere restructures, reduces loan Print E-mail

By Vicki Brown, Word&Way Associate Editor

Roach — Trustees for Windermere Baptist Conference Center celebrated both a loan refinance plan that reduces the facility's debt and an out-of-court settlement with a holdout contractor.

Meeting in regular session on Nov. 17, trustees noted the loan restructuring process was completed on Nov. 15. The new loan, which includes a bond sale, reduced Windermere's debt from $21 million to $14 million.

"Windermere is in very good shape," board chair Arthur Mallory noted during the meeting. "The key is to make sure we don't spend a dime more than we have to."

In a brief overview to staff at an appreciation luncheon, Mallory added, "We will do whatever is necessary to stay in the black.... God's ministry depends upon it."

Trustees did not release specific information about the restructuring plan during the public portion of the Nov. 17 meeting.

Windermere's finances slipped after a funding plan for the center's latest development, Wilderness Creek, fell through in 2002, after construction had already begun. Windermere finally was able to secure financing for Phase 1 of the project in August 2003.

The delay hampered projected facility use — and projected budgets — in 2003 and 2004.

At the meeting, a trustee asked if selling some of Windermere's property was an active consideration.

Mallory responded that property would not be sold because to do so would disrupt development plans. He noted a master plan that included development had been in place for at least five years and that trustees and administrators had talked about development for the last 10 years.

"This [expansion] was not a Johnny-come-lately decision," he said.

Hicks Construction of Niangua was among the companies contracted for the Wilderness Creek project in 2002. Hicks and several other firms filed liens against the conference center in early 2003.

Under Missouri law, the companies had to file a lien within 180 days to recoup payment.

The Phase 1 finance plan included enough money to pay contractors for the work they had completed. Each contractor had to provide evidence that any subcontractors and suppliers had been paid. Each also had to sign a warranty on completed work and a document to terminate the original contract.

Everyone, except Hicks, signed the necessary forms, accepted payment and dropped the liens against Windermere.

In a November 2003 interview, Hicks said he had followed the original contract and refused to sign the additional paperwork. The contractor also wanted to be reimbursed for attorneys' fees.

Hicks settled out of court for the original amount owed, about $450,000, and an additional $150,000.

On Nov. 17, trustees re-elected Mallory as chairman and Robert Plunk as vice chairman. Carrold Jack and Bill Affolter were reelected as trustees. (12-01-05)

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