EDMORE — Members of the Edmore Village Council are considering suing the owner of a prominent local business for allegedly not paying back a $238,000 loan.
Council members discussed the issue frankly and at length at their May 13 meeting. The Daily News obtained an audio recording of the open meeting.
Press the play button to listen to a clip of the Maxfield’s discussion
At a previous meeting on March 11, council members approved having the village attorney send a letter to Averyville Acres in Blanchard (Tony Maxfield) regarding a loan from the Edmore Economic Development Fund in 2009. Tony Maxfield owns The Depot in Edmore and Maxfield’s Restaurant in nearby Blanchard.
In response to a question from an audience member at the May 13 meeting, Village President Chester “Chet” Guild said Tony Maxfield currently owes the village $238,000. When asked by the same audience member how much the village has paid an attorney in this matter so far, Guild said he didn’t know. When pressed, Guild yelled, “What difference does it make? Do you think we ought to forgive Maxfield’s of the $238,000 they owe us?”
Later in the meeting, Guild talked about how he met with Maxfield in mid-April.“I told Tony that nobody wanted to put him out of business, I reassured him of that a dozen times, nobody was trying to put him out of business, but I told him the ball was in his court to come back and let me know what he wanted and I would take it to the council,” Guild said. “I know what he wants. He wants us to ensure to write the whole thing right off, but he even said, ‘You’re not going to do that,’ and I said ‘No, I’m sure we’re not.’ He said he would get back with me and he never has. I called today (May 13) twice, tried to get a hold of him, left a message for him to please call me. He never did call me.”
Guild said the council has two options in attempting to get Maxfield to repay the loan. He said one option is to sue Maxfield’s businesses.
“We hold a second mortgage to Chemical Bank to file bankruptcy (against Maxfield’s),” Guild said. “We would never get nothing.”
Guild said the second option would be to sue Maxfield and his sister Sherry personally, both of whom signed a personal note of guarantee for the loan.
“We haven’t blabbed that to people around town, you know,” said Guild of suing Maxfield and his sister. “The council has hopefully kept it pretty much under their hat. We haven’t talked about it here in front of the newspaper or anybody so that it’s in the papers or anything like that. I know there’s a lot of rumors floating around town.
“I’ve had a lot of people in this town come up to me and say, ‘It’s about time somebody does something,’” Guild added. “I have some pretty influential people in this town.”
Guild said he met with Tony Maxfield and Chemical Bank Vice President Tom Kohn about the loan.
“Tom sat right here and he just babbled on and on and on and on, how they had to do this for Tony and they had to do that for Tony,” Guild said. “Tom says, ‘I got a responsibility to the bank, if not, I’m going to lose my job.’ I says, ‘Tom I have a responsibility to the people in this town. He owes the people this money.’ Tom says, ‘You’re right.’”
Guild and council members and audience members then discussed at length and with apparent disdain about how they believe Maxfield spends his money. Allegations were voiced about Maxfield hiding his money, Maxfield and his wife going on an “expensive vacation that nobody else can afford,” Maxfield’s father going to Florida for the winter and driving a “nice Escalade” and Maxfield’s brother-in-law riding “new Harleys.”
“I know people in Edmore are tired of being spit on, for lack of a better word,” Guild said. “If you would have read his (Maxfield’s) response to the letter that the lawyer sent to him and then his response to the Village Council, to us, it was just terrible. He was accusing us of all kinds of things. He was as much saying that we owe him this money. He wants to leave a legacy like the Curtis Foundation did.
“We’re going to give him 30 days to come up with something,” Guild concluded. “The 30 days will be it at the next council meeting.”
The next Edmore Village Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.
Guild and Maxfield both declined to comment about the meeting when contacted by The Daily News.
Arthur “Jamie” Ballard was the only council member who voted “no” to having the village attorney send a letter to Maxfield regarding the loan at the March 11 council meeting.
Ballard went on to resign from the Village Council in April. He had served on the council for almost a decade and was just re-elected last November. Ballard told The Daily News he resigned for personal reasons.
“I’m not liking the way the council is going so I decided to resign,” he said. “It’s not moving in the direction I want it to move it. I think there’s a lot of micromanaging going on. That’s something I don’t agree with. We were moving along with economic development and it just wasn’t happening anymore. I was just a dead seat.”
At the May 13 meeting, Guild appointed Art Schuitema to fill Ballard’s position. Schuitema previously served as Edmore’s village manager from October 2009 to March 2010 before resigning. Schuitema ran for one of three open seats on the village council last November, but lost.
Karl Kluwe worked as Edmore’s village manager from April 2010 to April 2013. The Village Council is in the process of hiring a new village manager and will likely discuss the matter at Monday night’s meeting.
In Other Matters …
Also at the May 13 meeting, the Edmore Village Council:
• Voted to table a decision about dredging the Curtis Pond until the next meeting.
• Voted to spend up to $25,000 for sealcoating village streets.
• Appointed Chuck Burr, Jerry Rasmussen and Schuitema to the village street committee.
• Voted to award a $44,818.80 bid from Scott A. Crater Construction in Lakeview to work on the Curtis Park pavilion. Greg Ray Construction Co. in Stanton also submitted a bid of $42,760.
• Voted to add “no personal cell phone usage during working hours” to the village employee handbook.
• Voted to purchase a sign not to exceed $600 from Your Custom Image for the Sunrise property to advertise industrial park.
• Discussed lawn mowing contracts. “(Village Councilman) Chuck (Burr) and I have discussed this and … boy, maybe I shouldn’t have said that either,” said Village President Chet Guild during this discussion.
• Voted to purchase a new mower deck for the front mount John Deere mower not to exceed $400 from Bader & Sons in St. Louis.
• Voted to table a decision about expired terms of eight members of the Planning Commission until the next meeting.
• Heard from Guild who thinks all village council members should have keys to the village office building.
• Agreed to write letters of appreciation to a student representative on the village council and to Rich Adgate regarding the upcoming Potato Festival.
• Discussed making improvements to the village of Edmore website.