Cherokee Still In The Market For Recycling Facility Operator
Cherokee County Commissioners held a joint meeting with the Resource Recovery Development Authority to hear an update on the failed Ball Ground Recycling venture.
After a little more than a year of assuming financial responsibility of the failed Ball Ground Recycling venture, Cherokee County still has no solid commitment from any prospective companies to to take over operations.
Cherokee County Commissioners held a joint meeting with the Resource Recovery Development Authority to update each other and the public on the county's efforts to secure a deal for a company to take over a majority of the debt taxpayers are on the hook for.
Commissioner Harry Johnston said the county doesn't "have an offer on the table we are weighting at this moment," but it has to be steadfast in keeping the facility and its equipment in top shape.
The three new members of the RRDA — Troy Welker, Jeff Duncan and Tom Ware — all took part in the meeting. Those three members replaced former Commissioners Karen Bosch and Jim Hubbard and current Commissioner Jason Nelms.
The county commission would like to see the board eventually transition to one made up of solely citizens.
Ware noted one visitor from Ohio who toured the site said he was impressed at the quality of the equipment.
Whomever makes an offer to take over the operations, "they would be pleased with the condition of the site and the condition of the equipment," he added.
Welker noted it was imperative the county develop a business plan for the site, which he noted County Manager Jerry Cooper is already undertaking.
"Until that’s done or that’s completed, we’ve got the cart before the horse," he added.
County Chairman Buzz Ahrens said the county has had a diverse number of companies who specialize in the various aspects of recycling that have express interest in taking over the facility, such as one that would use sludge from the Cherokee County Water and Sewerage Authority to create some type of fertilizer.
On Wednesday, Ahrens added he isn't too confident they'll have a company who is willing to come in and take over 100 percent of the financial responsibility.
However, as long as the county has at least two or three prospects expressing interest, Ahrens said he won't worry.
"When we are down to one and only one, then I’ll start to worry," he added.
The county commission in 2006 created the Resource Recovery Development Authority and backed bonds up to $18 million to relocate Cherokee Recycling, later renamed Ball Ground Recycling, to land on Highway 5 just south of the Ball Ground city limits.
The agreement stipulated BGR Manager Jimmy Bobo was to make payments of the bond into an escrow account, but the county learned last year Bobo hadn't been making the payments.
That forced the county to pick up the tab, which it will still be responsible for if it does not find a new operator for the site.
Ball Ground Recycling in late May filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the company was subsequently forced to remove itself from the property.
The county, along with the RRDA, had been in bankruptcy court trying to remove the automatic stay imposed by the bankruptcy filing.
The United States Bankruptcy Court Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division in January eventually dismissed the company from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
In November, the county filed a civil suit against Bobo, his brother David Bobo and companies owned by both men, claiming fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.
The case has caught the attention of the Cherokee County Grand Jury, which last summer launched an investigation into the history of the deal.
The grand jury has made several recommendations to the county, including the county proceed with a forensic audit of the company's financial records and to use every avenue possible to collect money owed to the county.
The county hired McClendon & Associates to perform the audit, which is currently underway.