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Grand Jury Continues Investigation Into Resource Recovery Development Authority

Decision was made by an interim grand jury on Monday.

A Cherokee County grand jury has agreed to look further into the entity that backed bonds for an ill-fated business venture. 

The interim grand jury on Monday voted to “investigate and further inquire into the Resource Recovery Development Authority of Cherokee County, its books, sites, and property in order to clarify the details that led up to the County having to assume the re-payment of the bonds that funded Ball Ground Recycling, LLC.”

The measure was done after the grand jury met with county leaders on Monday. 

County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens said he and Commissioner Harry Johnston plan to meet next Tuesday morning for another round of discussions with the grand jurors.

Ahrens said he supported the grand jury for its decision.

"They have a responsibility to do what they think is necessary and I totally support that," he said, later adding the investigation "will help (us) in the end result."

The commission in 2006 created the Resource Recovery Development Authority, composed of the five commissioners, and backed up to $18 million in bonds, which were used to relocate the former Cherokee Recycling to land along Highway 5 just south of Ball Ground.

The agreement stipulated Bobo was to make payments of the bond into an escrow account, but the county learned last year Bobo hadn't been making the payments. That forced the county to pick up the tab, which it will still be responsible for if it does not find a new operator for the site.

Ball Ground Recycling in late May filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the company was subsequently forced to remove itself from the property. The county, along with the RRDA, have been in bankruptcy court trying to remove the automatic stay imposed by the bankruptcy filing.

The Cherokee County grand jury in June decided to launch an investigation into the deal and earlier this month issued 13 recommendations for the county in the aftermath of the deal gone sour.

The most notable recommendations include calling for a forensic audit into the financial dealings of Ball Ground Recycling; replacing the members of the Resource Recovery Development Authority with non-elected officials; placing on the ballot any future partnership between the county and private entity which would call for issuing bonds; and for the county to exhaust all avenues to recoup money owed to taxpayers in the failed business.

It also recommended the county look into recovering the cost of removing debris from the Blalock Road site. 

The commission last week passed a resolution commending the grand jury for its recommendations. It also committed to starting the process of looking for replacement members on the RRDA. 

See the attached copy of the interim grand jury's presentment for the September 2012 term. 

Frank Jones September 27, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Ahrens - "They have a responsibility to do what they think is necessary and I totally support that," he said, later adding the investigation "will help (us) in the end result." Mr. Ahrens...You had a responsibility to the citizens of Cherokee County to negotiate a reasonable contract with Mr. Bobo and to protect the citizens of the county. Instead, you and the other commissioners failed at your duties and taxpayers are now paying for your mistakes. Based upon the Grand Jury recommendations and comments by you and other commissioners, it appears: 1. That the commissioners did not read or understand the lease and bond documents prior to signing or approving them. (Recommendation #5) 2. That nobody from the county was tasked with overseeing the project...no supervision, no review. (Recommendation #3) 3. That the county assumed 100% of the risk and that Bobo didn't have to contribute any assets/capital to the project...He had no risk. (Recommendation 6) 4. That the RRDA didn't verify that Mr. Bobo was even paying his rent for a year and then allowed him to stay on the premises. The lease probably included terms for evicting him for non-payment. (Recommendation 9) 5. The grand jury wants a financial audit but commissioners have stated that they need help obtaining documents that can be audited. You kidding me? Every one of the "Bobo" commissioners should immediately resign!
Kristal Dixon (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Thanks for your input!

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