homepage logo

Singleteary sued over past due bill

By Staff | Oct 8, 2012

It was a “no-show” for Singleteary Food Solutions in Faribault County District Court on Tuesday.

While two economic development groups haggle over whether $100,000 used for the Singleteary Food Solutions project in Wells should be paid back to the county, a creditor has gone to court to collect.

The amount sought in conciliation court isn’t a large sum, only $295 plus a $75 filing fee.

Tom Westcott, owner of Cross Connection Inspection Services of Fairmont, is seeking payment for valve testing done at the facility on Oct. 3, 2011.

It isn’t that Westcott hasn’t tried working with Singleteary officials or given them the benefit of the doubt.

“Most of my customers are businesses and I don’t have this problem very often,” he says. “I just figured they were getting things ready, fixing up the place, to get up and running one of these days and would eventually pay me.” Tuesday’s hearing listed Jim Durfee as the person scheduled to appear on Singleteary’s behalf.

Westcott says he’s made numerous attempts to get in touch with someone at the company’s Wells office, but all he gets is a recorded message.

“I’ve called hundreds of times and even driven over there at least two times,” he says. “They won”t even acknowledge that I’ve called.”

Judge Douglas Richards entered a judgment in favor of Westcott.

Singleteary officials have 20 days to appeal. If they don’t, Westcott may take whatever collection measures are available and necessary.

Meanwhile, the Faribault County EDA board’s request for a joint meeting with Wells EDA officials has been put on hold.

The county wants to know how and when $100,000 intended to be a loan turned into a grant.

A letter dated July 19 and drafted with the help of County Attorney Troy Timmerman asked that the executive boards of the two EDAs sit down to discuss the matter.

“I would have thought they would’ve wanted to talk about it and start the dialogue,” says Commissioner John Roper, also a member of the county EDA board.

In a letter dated Sept. 8, Wells officials said they want discussion to wait until a loan extension period granted to Singleteary expires in December.

At that time, the meat-processing company is scheduled to begin making monthly payments of $4,713 on a $500,000 state loan to the city’s EDA for 10 years.

In addition, Singleteary was given more time to create 53 jobs. Meeting the goal by the end of next April will reduce the amount owed to $400,000, or $3,563 a month.

“If there has not been a status change regarding the operation, the EDA will consider what, if any, action to pursue,” says the letter signed by Brian Heck, Wells interim city administrator.

In June 2010, the county EDA and Wells EDA signed a promissory note and development agreement with Steve Singleteary.

The agreement says the county’s $100,000 would be forgiven if the company employed 15 full-time workers by the end of June.

County officials contend the money was never meant to be a grant. They also want documentation that Singleteary met employment goals spelled out in the agreement.