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School backers owe bank at least $1.47 million

2012-11-22T00:00:00Z 2012-11-22T14:36:18Z School backers owe bank at least $1.47 millionBy SANJAY TALWANI Independent Record Helena Independent Record
November 22, 2012 12:00 am  • 

A district judge has signed an order for a sheriff’s sale for land that secured loans by Mountain West Bank to backers of Helena Christian School, and the lawyers for the two sides have agreed on an amount owed the bank.

In an agreement signed Nov. 9, the parties agreed that the school backers owe the bank about $1.47 million from a 2008 loan and about $56,000 from a 2005 loan. That totals about $1.53 million, plus $11,382 in fees and 6 percent interest accumulating since Aug. 3, 2010.

Since the interest is still accumulating, the exact amount of what's owed isn't known.

The two sides agreed on an appraiser for the land, and Mountain West will bid the appraised amount at the sheriff’s sale, plus the costs of the sale and any back taxes due.

District Judge Dorothy McCarter did not award either side attorneys' fees.

The land in question is 326 acres near the Scratchgravel Hills that school backers hoped to develop in order to finance the school.

The school kept up to date on its payments, but during the real estate downturn the bank reappraised the property and demanded the school pay the loan down by $1 million, and filed suit in November 2010.

Meanwhile, attempts to develop the property failed and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality expressed concerned about contamination from the historic Franklin Mine.

In March 2011 Lewis and Clark County gave a preliminary plat approval for the site contingent on developers reaching an agreement with the DEQ for a cleanup plan.

The 2005 loan, for $90,000, was guaranteed by Ken Erdahl, Ray Fuller and Robert Hitzeroth, according to court documents.

The 2008 loan, for $1.5 million, was backed by the original group plus Christopher M. Batson, school Pricipal Robert M. “Mike” Dellwo, Jack C. Hamlin and B.G. Stumberg and was secured by the property.

The school itself is not located on the property, instead operates on the property of the Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church in East Helena.

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