Lien filed against Wellness Center seeks past due payment for propane

Posted April 30, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Just when many people had the impression that the financial woes of the Twin lakes Family Wellness Center were finally being resolved, recent revelations now have many citizens, and especially local government officials, very concerned about the current debts still owed by the Wellness Center board.

A major issue came to light last week, just hours after a special meeting of Clinton County Fiscal Court–when a lien against the facility was filed by a local gas company, due a gas bill that is over $60,000 in arrearage. Apparently there are other debts, but on a smaller scale than the propane bill.

The lien, which also included the county and city governments, was filed by Haddix Gas Company of Albany against the Twin Lakes Family Wellness Center. The document was filed Thursday, April 24 in the county clerk’s office.

The debt accumulated over the years, prior to the facility eventually tying onto a natural gas line earlier this year.

According to the lien on file in the county clerk’s office, the amount owed to Haddix Gas and Electric is $67,420.38 “plus accumulated interest, costs and attorney fees.”

The lien also has attached all of all charged receipts of propane that was made throughout the period in which the indebtedness occurred as well as a copy of the lease agreement. According to the document, “Haddix Gas & Electric began supplying gas to the Twin Lakes Family Wellness Center, Inc. on August 13, 2010 and services pertaining thereto continued through the 1st day of April, 2014.”

It was noted that periodic payments had been made through the time frame with the last payment being made in the amount of $500 on January 13 of this year, with the last supplying of gas being made on the same day.

Clinton Fiscal Court members discussed the Wellness Center issues at the call meeting held early last Thursday morning, the same day in which the lien was filed.

However, nothing was resolved at that session as the issues surrounding the matter was discussed during a 35-minute closed session, which pertained to the possible pending litigation involving a public agency.

Prior to the court entering into closed session, County Attorney Michael Rains briefly laid the groundwork of what the discussion would pertain to, noting possible actions “on several fronts,” including the propane gas bill to Haddix and the possible future involvement with the Department of Local Government, which helped fund the construction of the facility with a $1 million grant in which the county and city were recipients.

Weldon Haddix, owner of Haddix Gas, was at the meeting when the magistrates returned to open session, however, he declined to comment on the issue since he was there without his legal counsel. Haddix is being represented by local attorney David Choate.

Following the closed session, Rains announced the aforementioned issues had been discussed in the executive session but no action–during or after–was taken prior to the meeting being adjourned.

Clinton County Judge/Executive Lyle Huff presented the news media with a copy of a letter from Bobby Russell, General Counsel for the Kentucky Department of Local Government and its Director, Tony Wilder. The document was dated last Tuesday, April 22 to Judge Huff and Albany Mayor Nicky Smith.

The Twin Lakes Family Wellness Center building and real properties are deeded to the county. The federal grant of $1 million, administered through the Department of Local Government, lists the County of Clinton and City of Albany as joint repaints, which is the apparent reason that the DLG names both local government entities as being liable for the repayment of the grant funds should the facility cease operating prior to June 8, 2016.

The Wellness Center building itself was originally slated to be constructed in the county’s industrial park north of Albany but the location was later changed. Once the building was built, the City of Albany was left off the actual deed. However, apparently because it was an original co-recipient of the federal grant, a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), the DLG considers the city to be obligated–along with the county-for the grant, according to Russell’s letter.

Russell reiterated some points that have been made in the past, stating in part that “…City of Albany and County of Clinton were recipients of a $1,0000,000 Community Development Block Grant originally dated August 6, 2007. Pursuant to terms of the joint CDBG agreement with the Department of Local Government, the City and County have specific obligations.

“As set forth…the City and County are obligated to ensure operation of the Wellness Center until June 8, 2016. Failure to do so would require the City and County to repay the $1,000,000 grant to DLG.

“…these provisions require Clinton County and the City of Albany to ensure the operation and continued eligibility (all residents 53.3 percent low and moderate-income have access to the facility) of the Wellness Center until five years from the date of the project close-out.”

The agreement also gives three options should the Wellness Center be unable to operate prior to the 2016 date, and includes:

1) Provide the additional funding necessary…to continue operations;

2) Operate the Center under an alternative arrangement; or

3) Close the Center and return the $1 million grant to DLG.

The letter also requested his office be notified by May 15 of their (city and county) intentions.

The next regular meeting of Clinton County Fiscal Court is scheduled for Thursday, May 15 at 5 p.m. and is open to the public.