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Stratford Hall program to highlight Virginia's enslaved cooks

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St. James Episcopal Church in Montross holds homecoming

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W&L Senior Night

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Westmoreland artist shows rock ‘n’ roll art at General's Ridge Vineyard

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O’Gara Group may pull away from Westm'd County deal

   The word on the street this Monday was that the O’Gara Group might be changing its plans to locate a security training facility in the Westmoreland County Industrial Park.
   County officials approved a purchase contract on January 12 that would allow O’Gara Group to buy the publicly owned industrial shell building and the remaining 25 acres of industrial park property for development as a security training school.
The contract with the local government was contingent on the prospective buyer’s ability to purchase an adjacent 325-acre tract, but District 2  Westmoreland Supervisor Russ Culver advised The Journal this Monday afternoon that there may be problems with the purchaser’s ability to obtain the necessary financing.
   O’Gara’s purchase contract with the local government names S. Bryan Chandler as the owner of the adjacent 325-acre tract. O’Gara would pay Westmoreland County $679,178 in certified funds at settlement. Five percent of the total purchase price was delivered to Westmoreland County as a non-refundable deposit when the purchase contract was approved.
   Settlement was to occur within thirty days of the end of what the contract described as a feasibility period. A closer look at the contract’s feasibility section discloses conditions that would reverse the so-called non-refundable character of the buyer’s $33,959 deposit to Westmoreland.
According to the contract, the purchaser was given a 60-day feasibility period “to determine, in [the purchaser’s] sole discretion, through engineering and feasibility studies, i[f] its location, intended use of, and financing of the property are practical.
   “If within said period, Purchaser notifies Seller or an agent of Seller in writing by either facsimile or certified mail, that his plan, in his sole and absolute judgment, is not practical, this Contract is to be considered null and void [and] Purchaser shall be entitled to a return of its Deposit.”
According to this reporter’s understanding of Supervisor Russ Culver’s February 2 comments on the subject, O’Gara had an option contract on the adjacent 325-acre tract and had expected to raise the money to buy the land by engaging in a public offering during February 2009.
The plans went awry when the Securities Exchange Commission advised O’Gara Group that it cannot have a public contract while it is offering shares.
“So they put another contract in with Bryan Chandler,” Culver stated.
   The Supervisor went on to relate that O’Gara’s plans “may stall because of a problem getting money from the bank. They needed $12 to $20 million, so they wanted to have a public offering.”
    Monday afternoon Culver continued to encourage the Westmoreland Citizens Association to host a meeting in which O’Gara Group would meet with county residents to answer questions and make their intentions better understood.
Earlier on Monday the Association’s officers held a meeting and decided not to become involved as an intermediary between O’Gara and the public.
   “People are unhappy that the county government kept this from the public,” Association President Kennon Morris related. “If there is a problem with the people, it’s the fault of the county government. Let them schedule a meeting with O’Gara and the people, if that is what they really want.”
Culver said he asked the Association to schedule a meeting with O’Gara because he said he felt the purchaser’s difficulty in obtaining financing can provide an opportunity for the local government to revisit the matter and give the public an opportunity to deliver input and have their questions answered.
According to Culver’s reading of the purchase contract, O’Gara “has 30 days to come in and make the contract valid.
   “The problem,” said Culver, “is that right now everything is up in the air. It’s important to get a meeting with a lot of people in attendance. If O’Gara Group could have an opportunity to give us honest answers, I feel certain they could alleviate a lot of fears.”
   Although Senator Richard Stuart represented O’Gara Group on January 12, the previously referenced contract lists M .R. Foley & Associates, LLC of Richmond as the agent of the purchaser.
   The county government purchased its industrial park property at a cost of $361,844.25. The park’s shell building cost $461,995 to construct and $25,000 was expended for architectural and engineering fees.
   It was Northern Neck Electric Cooperative that carried the cost of the industrial shell building’s construction. Over a period of 9.61 years Westmoreland County paid the Cooperative $4,000 each month and the final payment on the building’s debt service was made just prior to the county government’s January 12 approval of the purchase contract with O’Gara.
   In addition to the $679,178 Westmoreland expected to receive from O’Gara Group, a portion of the industrial park property was previously sold to Carry-On Trailer for $445,128.46. A smaller section of the park’s property was conveyed to Scott Travers for $61,000. The O’Gara transaction would have completed the park’s development.

Betsy Ficklin

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