Delisted: Bay Tech lot withdrawn from MLS

Just because I’ve not written anything on the Bay Waveland School District real estate scandal does not mean things have not been happening folks.  I’m not going to slice and dice this subject like some of the other matters I cover as there is no need. That said I’ve have enough accumulated for an update so here goes.

First is the local rumor mill, which is saying the FBI has been poking around.  I’ve found doing Slabbed that rumors about grand jury investigations and investigations in general to be notoriously unreliable since there are so many moving parts involved, so I’d urge the buyer of such ruminations to beware.

Second is I’ve heard several tantalizing tidbits about the confirmed investigation into this by the Mississippi Real Estate Commission.  After taking a peeksie at their list of disiplinary actions I wonder what it would take for a realtor to actually lose their license in this state. That said this investigation appears to be moving quickly to a resolution.

Third is what I’ll call a verifiable fact on the Bay Tech Lot next to the building as the listing with McDonald Realty has been cancelled per the MLS as of October 17, 2012.  Going back through my notes on the lot from earlier interviews with Mr Bill Washburn with the Magnolia Group and Avra O’Dwyer of O’Dwyer Realty I noted Mr Washburn indicated the lot was listed at $135,000 and that soon after Slabbed broke this story he indicated he fired his realtor Mary Bunch.  I duly noted the McDonald Realty sign remained on the property and the listing remained active in the MLS for weeks after Mr Washburn gave me that interview. Continue reading “Delisted: Bay Tech lot withdrawn from MLS”

Guest Post: What made Bay Waveland School Board President Sherry Ponder change her mind about the Bay Tech Building

What made Dr. Sherry Ponder change her mind about having the taxpayers purchase the Bay Tech Building?

She states in the Oct. 11, edition of the Sea Coast Echo that the school district had been looking at this building and others since Sept. 29, 2005. But, when the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government wrote to her on Sept. 6, 2011, asking that the school board look around the community for an older building to renovate for their business office rather than build a new one for two million dollars, she was not interested in our idea.

The business manager actually told me in an open meeting that FEMA was going to build it, and for me to think of it as a “gift.”

Now enter the architects!! From September 2011 to May 2012, the school board doled out over $90,000 in tax dollars for plans for the new building.

Then Bam!!! In July of 2012, the Board came out of Executive Session and announced that they were going to buy the Bay Tech Building and renovate it for their Business Office. Now, this was never discussed in open session since Sept. 2011, when they rejected our idea.

So what or who changed the Board’s minds and when? Let’s remember that nothing has changed about this building since 2005–no renovations, no improvements. It still has to be brought up to code, and cosmetic work has to be done to make it habitable for our Superintendent, her staff, and the children who will be housed there on a daily basis.

Wait a minute!! One thing did change in the last 9 months while our board was flushing $90 grand down the toilet and holding firm to their opinion that this building was not appropriate for their needs—-the ownership changed to LNG Investments- Gerald Rigby and Lloyd Nicaud.

But why would this be attractive to the school district?? And, why did the taxpayers end up paying $255,000 more than LNG paid for it only 8 weeks prior with no renovations to justify a quarter of a million dollar increase in price on a piece of property in a county where the mil de-valued this year?? That is $31,875 a week profit for LNG. Not a bad piece of change!

The Hancock County Alliance for Good Government has been notified that we cannot have a tour of the building at this time because it is unsafe. I personally doubt the building is unsafe, but what is unsafe is having this board negotiate real estate transactions for the taxpayers.

Now, I have no problem with anyone making a profit, but let’s remember this is a small school district that is trying to recover from the worst natural disaster in our nation’s history.

Kind of reminds me of buzzards on road kill.

I’ll just leave you with the explanation from Mary Bunch (Lloyd Nicaud’s mother) “in the Sea Coast Echo of Sept. 29—–“these guys bought that building–they re-sold that building. That’s what they do.” Really??!!

Lana Noonan, Chairman
Hancock County Alliance for Good Government

Slabbed welcomes all points of view on the topics we cover. Our readers can submit guest columns to Slabbed New Media. While we allow anonymous comments on the blog, guest columnist must submit a verifiable name and contact information in order to be published.

Links to Slabbed’s previous coverage of this matter:

And upon the hill they planted their flag…….

Trustees approve Bay Tech renovation ~ The Sea Coast Echo

As the shifting story continues to evolve:

Both Bunch and the LNG partners have said their actions were entirely proper and legal and that the so-called “controversy” has been manufactured; and Ronnie Artigues, attorney for the BWSD, said the district was happy because it purchased the property for well under its appraised and assessed values.

Slabbed has learned The Magnolia Group has begun the formalities of commencing civil litigation in this matter.  Slabbed has also learned the Mississippi Real Estate Commission has also opened a formal investigation based upon multiple complaints they have received on this specious, taxpayer funded transaction.

Slabbed will be covering this debacle and related wasting of taxpayer money by the Bay Waveland School Board as events unfold. Stay tuned.

Links to Slabbed’s previous coverage of this matter:

School District records suggest collusion in Bay Waveland’s School District’s purchase of Bay Tech Building

Bunch described the growing controversy as unnecessary and unfounded “havoc and chaos.”

“The people that bought the building (LNG) are all very good human beings and good citizens of Hancock County. These are businessmen and what they did – they didn’t go to the school board, from what I understand, the school board came to them. … These allegations are baseless. These guys bought that building. They re-sold that building. That’s what they do.

I was reminded of the Miranda warning when I read the Sea Coast Echo’s second try at poorly telling the stinky story of the Bay Waveland School District’s purchase of the Bay Tech Building from 3 politically connected local business people because as this drama plays out, I guarantee certain people will wish they had kept mouths shut as we visit next with local businessman Gerald Rigby and get his take on this unfolding scandal:

LNG President Jerry Rigby said Friday that any allegations of wrong-doing are completely false. Rigby said it may have been a short while between the time LNG closed on the property and then sold it to the school board, but his company had actually been working on a couple of different development deals at the Bay Tech site since at least last December.

“We contacted (Magnolia Group) through the realtor. … We proceeded with a normal real estate acquisition. We offered a number. They came back with a counter offer. They countered our counter and they accepted (our next offer) very quickly. … I don’t think we had any power to compel them to accept the offer.”

Slabbed has obtained certain documents with the help of the local Alliance for Good Government, a citizens group the Sea Coast Echo regularly paints as loons in their beat reporting on the school district. Worth noting is the editor of the Echo, Randy Ponder is married to School Board Prez Sherry Ponder, thus the lack of integrity in said beat reporting but that subject is best fleshed out in a dedicated post.

What documents did I obtain? For purposes of this post I’m going to zero in on three: One page from the deed related to the sale of the building by LNG to School Board, one of the two appraisal reports that were ordered by the School District and the following letter from the AFGG to School Board Prez Sherry Ponder dated September 6, 2011: Continue reading “School District records suggest collusion in Bay Waveland’s School District’s purchase of Bay Tech Building”

How the New Media rolls: Watch and learn boys and girls.

Rule number 1 here at Slabbed New Media is “attribute and source”. Rule #2 here at Slabbed New Media is “See rule #1”. I mention this because there is a sleazy underbelly to this biz where for profit entities ignore copy write. Slabbed has a creative commons license that is plainly displayed on the right sidebar. Anyone can freely use the work from this blog provided they attribute the source and agree to redistribute the work in a share and share alike manner. It is a very low bar indeed.

I mention this because yesterday evening the Sea Coast Echo put the following story up on their website regarding the unfolding scandal at the Bay Waveland School Board involving the purchase of the old Bay Tech building. I do not see Slabbed New Media attributed anywhere in that story. This is not the first time the Echo has ripped off Slabbed.

That said Geoff Belcher’s piece is worth the read because he nabbed quotes from Mary Bunch, Avra O’Dwyer and School Board Attorney Ronnie Artigues.  He frames the story as a controversy between realtors, which could not be farther from the truth as I’ve heard from the local Hancock County Alliance for Good Government and those folks are hopping mad.  I thought it was strange he did not have any quotes from the victim, Mr Bill Washburn, who has indicated to Slabbed he has retained counsel in this matter.  Finally I detect a wee bit of ass covering at the Echo, which misreported the seller originally despite the fact it was a public record both at the courthouse and at the school district.  Worth noting is the Echo’s major digital banner advertiser appears to be John McDonald Realty and School Board President Sherry Ponder is married to the editor of the Echo, who evidently didn’t run a spell check on the story before publishing it.

Worth remembering is the following article which Jr. linked a few months ago on Slabbed about a small town in North Carolina with an established, sold out local paper and an upstart that actually reported accurate news.  The internet killed the gatekeeper years ago but in some corners of small town America that message has not yet sunk in.  I’m going to let the documents tell this story because the devil is in the details as we’ll continue to follow the money.

Bay Waveland School Board Minutes add color to the purchase of the old Bay Tech building

Last week’s post on the questions raised by real estate deeds and other public records surrounding the FEMA funded purchase of the old Bay Tech Building on Second Street from 3 politically connected local business people unfortunately contained more questions than answers.  Today I think we can answer those questions and peg the exact date the flip to the School District occured but first let’s visit with that first post Court documents raise questions about Bay-Waveland School District’s purchase of the old Bay Tech Building so everyone is on the same page:

You see folks the Bay Tech building flooded from Katrina and to my knowledge was never fixed.  To buy it meant planning had to be done so surely we have other clues to help us hone in on a date.  The June minutes have nothing of interest to note but the May 14, 2012  Board minutes contained an interesting blurb paying local architects for design work on a new administration building (Page 13).  Given the payment application number and amount I imagine this was for a brand new building, not Bay Tech but for now I’ll leave that as an open question.

The documentary records from the MLS and the Deed indicate the listing agent sold the property to herself, son and her son’s business partner for $325,000 on June 8, 2012.  Additionally press reports indicate the local school district bought the building less than 2 months later for $580,000.  School Board minutes indicate negotiations began after the July 16, 2012.

I called Mr Bill Washburn, owner of Magnolia Group for comment and he confirmed the sale, sales price and listing realtor.

Implied but not said in that first post was the selling agent, Ms Mary Bunch did not notify her client she, along with her son and her son’s business partner were the purchasers of the property.  I would like to clear that up by stating Mr Washburn tells Slabbed he was not notified of the clear ethical conflict inherent to the transaction. Continue reading “Bay Waveland School Board Minutes add color to the purchase of the old Bay Tech building”