In response to your article “County Discusses St. Marie Bankruptcy” (May 7, Page 1A), the properties in question are not Pat Kelly’s, but St. Marie Development Corporation of Mt. (SMDC), a corporation that was formed for the creditors of Terry Parks’ bankruptcy. At the time of Terry Parks’ bankruptcy, people rightfully said that the stock had no value as there was no market for the properties. SMDC under Marv Bethea sold the few marketable properties of SMDC for ridiculously low prices. The 120 storage units, which Bethea currently owns, netted SMDC about a hundred dollars each; I wonder what he is asking for them now. The large Base Exchange and the large grocery store building each sold for a few thousand dollars; currently those two buildings are being sold under contract to DTM for over $300,000, while the housing still has no value.
The Chapter 11 was initiated to stop Bethea from taking the Chapel with a judgment that is being contested by a breach of contract. The only way that St. Marie will be an asset to Valley County is if the inventory is held together and national advertising is done; there is no local market for 700 homes. SMDC has no creditors that are asking for payment that could be harmed by a Chapter 11, no payments have been stopped; basically the only creditors SMDC has are attorneys that have been fighting bogus liens by Marv Bethea for years to help keep SMDC properties. The attorneys know that the only way they will be paid is to get good title.
The housing that SMDC got out of the Terry Parks’ bankruptcy was mostly inferior single story units and with 500 of the better units owned by others and title problems SMDC units had no value then and still do not today. I have spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal funds and took on $500,000 in debt and have been trying to bring St. Marie back; for the county attorney to state that I may have done fraudulent transfers of units for no just compensation to SMDC is disgraceful.
I asked to brief the commissioner on the St. Marie and the Chapter 11, but they did not respond; it seems they had made up their minds. There is not negative to the Chapter 11 except to those taking properties; it helps creditors and shareholders. I am currently working on a joint venture that depends on the properties staying together.
There is much more that needs to be told on the county’s actions, such as the 1,000 percent increase in taxes that resulted in the dilapidated buildings Commissioner Dave Pippin wants you to pay for the tear down. The only income properties (13) of mine that would help in bringing St. Marie back were “randomly” chosen out of over 400 units by the commissioners as property the county wanted to take. The 47 severed units (personal property) taken under real property rules that taxes could not be paid for individually because they were under one code; the county had already made an exception to Bethea, it was originally 48 units. Bethea then took 44 of those units from SMDC and myself under those conditions. When you talk to people around the state Valley County has the worst reputation of all of Montana, why is that? I believe it is the lack of leadership; a local minister said it was a “black cloud.” No one would be able to say that with Fort Peck and a thriving St. Marie and a growing and prosperous Glasgow. My great-grandfather was the tailor at Fort Buford at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers in the 1880s and later homesteaded near Sidney. I know the people of Eastern Montana are the best. One of the reasons Judy and I came and developed St. Marie was because of our heritage and the love of the people here. We are great people and need to demand good leadership.
Your article stated “County Attorney Nickolas Murnion explained that a Chapter 7 would mean a faster process to liquidate the listed assets.” Why liquidate them when they have no value, and for whom and why? Does a town father want them? I believe the properties would go to Marv Bethea’s bogus judgment. No creditors are asking for payment, except Bethea and his judgment, but Mr. Murnion says it would be faster. Faster to do what? The article also states, “The county has an issue with the further delay on tax liens on the properties.” These are the bogus water liens created prior to Terry Parks bankruptcy that need to be challenged. The article goes on about Mr. Pippin’s concern about dilapidated buildings and a possible raise in mill levy. Not growth, but an increase in mill levy is Mr. Pippin’s solution? All this should be on “60 Minutes.” I am serious; everyone call “60 Minutes.” It is an unbelievable story. If anyone knows why the commissioners are against growth let the editor know.
Well, whatever it is I am committed to make the community named “St. Marie” a special place and will be in Billings defending SMDC against Mr. Bethea and the commissioners represented by Mr. Pippin of Pippinville. A little humor here at Mr. Pippen’s expense; I reference to Pippinville/Pottersville as it relates to Potterville in the Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” it seems there is a close comparison and the results would be similar.
I have many things I would rather be doing, such as finishing the “Pregnant Virgin Mary Statue” for my wife’s grave site, but nothing is more important to Judy and I than making the Community we named St. Marie a special place. You all need to speak up. Valley County should not have to put up with a dump of a community such as St. Marie is now or pay for tearing it down. Judy and I did the impossible against all odds years ago, and St. Marie can benefit everyone if you all get involved and support Two Rivers Economic Growth and the Glasgow Chamber and get behind development.
How can this be changed? I believe that Two Rivers and the chamber will overcome the negative atmosphere that has dominated the area. Each of you out there needs to get involved, especially parents and business owners.