Company sued by city files bankruptcy

Published 1:15 am Sunday, April 12, 2015

After almost eight years of letters and courts battles, the $8,909 the city of Vicksburg received from USA Partners Sports Alliance in 2014 is all the reimbursement it will get from the $250,000 it paid the Jacksonville, Fla., company in 2007 for a sports complex study.

City Attorney Nancy Thomas said Friday USA Partners owner John Daniel Jr. recently filed for bankruptcy in West Virginia, adding the city will lose $241,091 of the money he was supposed to reimburse the city for not doing the study.

The announcement came early during a meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Friday morning.

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The news drew a stiff response from North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield, who was on the board that hired USA Sports.

On the Agenda
Meeting Friday, the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen:
• Adopted the board minutes for March 2.
• Received an update on events at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center.
• Awarded bids for the following items: United Rentals of Vicksburg, Genie boom lift for the Vicksburg Convention Center, $55,214.78; Reid Exterminating Co. of Greenville, pest control, $9 per building; Dickerson and Bowen of Jackson, asphalt by line item; Devinny Equipment co. Raymond, excavator and trailer for the sewer department, $92,057; Hwy. 27 Motors, towing, by line item.
The board rejected two lower bids for the excavator and trailer because they did not meet bid specifications.
• Rejected the bids for a type three ambulance and authorized City Clerk Walter Osborne to readvertise.
• Authorized Osborne to advertise for bids for water treatment plant chemicals.
• Approved an operations plan for the Vicksburg Municipal Airport.
• Approved a request from the Warren County Soil and Conservation District and Natural Resources Conservation for complimentary use of the Vicksburg Auditorium for a 13-county, Delta-wide summer meeting July 21.
• Authorized paying the following requisitions: $172,546.38 to Denali Water Solutions LLC for removing lime sludge at the water treatment plant on Haining Road; $24,970 to Digital Alley for six camera systems for six new police cars; $35,654.26 to Sunbelt Fire Apparatus for repairs to the ladder on fire truck No. 14.
• Approved a request from the police department to place a car in the unmarked inventory for investigations.
• Approved a request from Community Council of Warren County for $12,500 in matching funds.
• Approved paying $500 for advertising with the Gator Football Booster Club.
• Approved paying $2,500 for an advertisement promoting the city in the program for the inauguration ceremonies for the new Alcorn State president.
• Approved paying $702.24 to advertise the city’s summer youth/intern program in The Vicksburg Post.
• Approved a resolution to apply for a 2015-16 Stop Violence Against Women grant.
• Authorized Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to sign a contract with Stacey Waites for victim case management services at a rate of $20 per hour not to exceed 85 hours a month.
• Authorized Flaggs to sign a services contract with domestic violence court officer Trina Naylor at a rate of $18 an hour, not to exceed 60 hours a month.
• Authorized Flaggs to sign an agreement with Haven House Family Shelter for services under the Stop Violence Against Women grant.
• Authorized Flaggs to sign an agreement with My Brother’s Keeper for improvments to the City Park walking track.
• Authorized Flaggs for sign the final papers closing out the 2015 TRIAD Grant.
• Authorized Flaggs to sign an agreement with Alfred Patten involving  $761.35 Patten owes the city in tuition because he did not complete paramedic training at Hinds Community College.
• Approved a $616,240 bid from J.S. Haren Co. of Athens, Tenn. for work at the waste water treatment plant on Rifle Range Road.

“In all the years I’ve been in public office, this is probably the worst thing I’ve ever had to deal with,” he said. “A person rips the city of Vicksburg off for all this money and then walks free. In my opinion, it’s a true disgrace, and I think it slaps this board in the face.

“Everything we did was in good faith. We did a contract. We did it the right way. We did it on top of the table. We put our faith in this individual doing what we hired him to do, and then some judge that could care less about the city of Vicksburg wipes it out. It’s not right. I’m very offended by it. I think it’s a stupid decision by the judge, and it’s a shame that he doesn’t have to pay it.”

The City board hired USA Partners Sports Alliance in 2007 for $250,000 to determine the feasibility of a proposed $25 million sports complex at Halls Ferry Park, including Bazinsky Field, proposed by the Aquila Group of Vicksburg.

The proposal included baseball and softball fields and related amenities, a water park, a baseball stadium/ballpark and facilities for golf, soccer, volleyball, tennis and other activities. The Aquila Group would lead the construction and management of the fields and sports facilities.

A study by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality found the site was not suitable because part of Halls Ferry Park was built on what was once the city’s landfill.

Under an agreement between the city and USA Partners, which was hired after Aquila approached the city, the $250,000 feasibility study cost would be returned to the city if the complex did not materialize. When the money was not reimbursed, the city sued Daniel.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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