POMEROY — Wolfe Mountain Entertainment opened last June with the goal of “Bringing Magic Home.”
Just when the dream of having a such a magical place in Meigs County seemed to be coming to fruition, a scam is threatening to bring their plans to a halt.
WME owners Bruce Wolfe and Dan Dunham worked for many years at various positions with the Walt Disney Co. for many years and dreamed of opening their own special place where families could celebrate life’s events with a touch of Disney magic.
Wolfe, a Meigs County native, wanted to establish the venue in his hometown. They found the former Pomeroy High School in need of much repair, but decided it was just the right place to establish Wolfe Mountain Entertainment.
The Walt Disney Co. contracted with WME as a consultant for parade operations, building on the relationship both Wolfe and Dunham had with the company. As a result of their relationship, they would be able to offer Disney-themed events.
With an emphasis on exceptional customer care, their plans included hosting individually designed parties, weddings, graduations, anniversaries and reunions. Upstairs classrooms were to be used for educational courses in the performance arts, painting, crafts, music and dance.
The 101-year-old structure underwent major renovations during the transition from abandoned high school to Wolfe Mountain, and although progress has been made, there is still much work to be done for the dream to be fully realized.
During the ongoing renovations, Wolfe Mountain has hosted several plays presented by the River City Players, established monthly movie and dance nights and been the venue of a wedding. Princess parties are being held on a regular basis and the holidays saw successful events from Halloween through Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Business was going well, so it was not out of the ordinary when a man who identified himself as “Doug Arnold” contacted WME in October and indicated his desire to plan an anniversary party.
“He was very specific with his plans,” Wolfe said. “From what kind of cake he wanted to the photographer. He was very specific about the menu, the color scheme. He was very detailed in plans for the party. He was in daily contact with us.”
A contract for services to be provided to “Doug Arnold” was sent, signed and returned. “Arnold” then began paying WME through their online business account using credit cards. Assuming the charges were verified by the credit card processing company before the money was released into their account, Wolfe and Dunham began paying the caterers, transportation services and photographers for the event.
Orders were placed for linens and party decorations, and work began to improve the kitchen area for the event. During this time, “Arnold” increased the number of guests for the party from 90 to 250, and indicated he wanted to begin planning for other events, including a birthday party and family reunion to celebrate his brother’s return from Iraq.
The first event was scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend; WME received a call on Monday from “Arnold” saying the party had to be postponed due to a death in the family.
While Wolfe and Dunham scrambled to reschedule the event, they received three emails from the credit card processing company that some of the charges made by “Arnold” were in dispute.
“We tried to contact him and his number was disconnected,” Wolfe said. “He completely disappeared. His email address was no longer valid.”
A short time later, they received emails from multiple credit card companies saying the charges were disputed and that Wolfe Mountain was responsible for the $40,000 charged to stolen credit card numbers.
Wolfe and Dunham have hired an attorney to handle the matter and the Pomeroy Police Department is proceeding with an investigation.
“We are a fledgling business and we cannot handle this amount of debt,” Wolfe and Dunham said. “How can we move ahead when this is hanging over us. We have limited choices. If money has to be paid back, we just don’t have it.”
In the meantime, “the show must go on.” WME will be hosting River City Players’ performance of “Murder at Cafe Noir.” They will continue with movie night, dance night, and planned Princess events as they await the outcome of the investigation.
“We are still open for business,” Wolfe said. “The magic will continue as long as we can manage to do so. This is our dream, we don’t want to let it die because of something like this.”
Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155 Ext. 2551.