POMEROY — The future of the old Pomeroy High School may once again be up for debate.
A civil complaint was filed on Monday in Meigs County Common Pleas Court against the Village of Pomeroy, Pomeroy Village Council, Mark Porter and Porter Brothers, LLC.
The complaint was filed by Athens-based attorney Steven T. Sloan on behalf of the plaintiff, Banks Construction Company. Banks Construction is based in Pomeroy.
The filing alleges that the village and Porter did not follow protocol with regard to the sale of the old Pomeroy High School building.
“It has been paid in full,” Porter said of the property which is now in his name. “I’m sure the court system will figure it out.”
Pomeroy Village Clerk Sonya Wolfe said the village had no comment at this time about the civil action.
The complaint details the alleged issues brought up by the sale of the school to Porter.
According to the complaint, Pomeroy Village Ordinance 751 gave the village the right to reject any and all bids submitted as a result of the call for bids due on Dec. 4, 2011. It further stated that 10 percent of the accepted bid was due within seven days of the bid opening, and the balance was due within 30 days.
The complaint also alleges that Porter submitted a bid, however no contract was entered into between the village and Porter or, alternatively, any contract by and between the village and Porter was subsequently revoked or terminated. It also states that Porter did not pay the 10 percent within seven days and did not pay the balance within 30 days.
Porter’s exchanges with council at the Oct. 8 meeting are also detailed in the complaint. At the meeting, Porter was advised that if he was interested in the building, he would have to rebid.
In the next meeting, council passed a motion to deliver a letter to Porter clarifying his bid. As stated in the complaint, the letter read (in part):
Your bid of $20,250 was the low [sic] bid, and thus you were awarded the right to purchase the property for that amount. Shortly thereafter you indicated you wished to withdraw your bid and not purchase the property. Relying upon this assertion, the Village moved ahead to solicit bids again for the sale of the old Pomeroy High School. Recently, however, you indicated that you never withdrew your bid and wished to go ahead and purchase the old Pomeroy High School.
Therefore, in order to dispel any confusion regarding the status of your bid, the Village of Pomeroy is willing to allow you to follow through on your initial bid and purchase the property at this time pursuant to that bid of $20,250.
The complaint also states that council refused to consider any bids submitted pursuant to the advertisement published on Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31 of this year.
On Nov. 12, Pomeroy Mayor Mary McAngus told council the building had officially been transferred to Mark Porter in accordance with the bid he placed nearly a year ago, which was formally accepted in February of this year.
McAngus stated that the deed had been transferred to Porter and that the sale had been paid in full. The complaint states that the deed was recorded with the Meigs County Recorder transferring the Old Pomeroy High School property from the Village to Porter on or about Nov. 14.
The announcement by McAngus came on a night when bids from the most recent sale advertisement were to be opened by members of council. According to a legal notice printed in The Daily Sentinel on multiple days in October, bids for the property were to be submitted by Nov. 9 to the village.
McAngus said that four bids — including one from Banks — had been received by council and would be returned unopened along with a letter stating the reasoning. McAngus stated that Village Solicitor Mick Barr would help with sending out the letter.
The plaintiff is asking that the Village of Pomeroy and Village Council proceed to open the bids which were submitted in accord with the legal advertisements in October 2012. The complaint also asks that the village and council proceed according to the law with regard to the bids submitted.
Porter had submitted the only bid in December 2011 on the property which is adjacent to his auto dealership. The bid of $20,250 was much less that the asking price of $60,000. At the time, it was estimated that it would cost $40,000 to demolish the structure. The village had advertised the property for sale twice in 2011, with Porter’s bid coming from the second advertisement. There were no bids the first time.
While council accepted the bid at the December 12, 2011, meeting, an ordinance approving the sale was not passed until Feb. 13, 2012. Ordinance 758, an emergency ordinance, accepted the bid by Mark Porter Chevrolet and approved the mayor to sign the deed for transfer of the sale.
During the April 9, 2012, meeting of Pomeroy Village Council, McAngus signed the deed allowing for the transfer to take place. At the time it was estimated that the closing would take place later that week or early the following week.
The sale of the building was not discussed with council again until June 25, 2012, when McAngus told council that the dealership did not go through with the purchase of the property. No action was taken at that time regarding the property.
Three months later, in late September, council approved to advertise the building for purchase for a third time.
Porter spoke with council during the first meeting in October, stating that he would go ahead and purchase the building if council had the proper title/deed. On more than one occasion during the meeting, Porter noted that there was an issue with the title/deed. Porter said that he never received the deed to the property and stated that Village Solicitor Mick Barr had spent several months doing research to locate the deed. Council member Phil Ohlinger said this was the first he had hear of any issue with the deed.
At that time, Porter was told that he could not buy the property since it was being rebid.
The building — which was built in 1914 — was home to the Pomeroy High School Panthers until the school consolidated into the Meigs Local School District 40 years ago.
Following the consolidation, the building became the Pomeroy Municipal Building, housing the water office, police department and other administrative offices. The building has remained vacant since the village moved operations in December 2009 to the former Millennium building.
The property, according to discussion at previous council meetings, was transferred from Meigs Local School District to the Village of Pomeroy in 2011.