Sheriff sale set for February for Midwest amusement park

Shwano Leader, Wisconsin/December 18, 2005
By Tim Ryan

Midwest Amusement Park has been ordered sold off to pay a delinquent debt to one of its creditors.

A Shawano County Sheriff’s Department sale of the property, at W5901 County Road BE in the Town of Wescott, has been scheduled for Feb. 8 at 9 a.m.

The public auction is scheduled to take place in the lobby of the Shawano County Courthouse, 311 N. Main St. However, the sale could still be stopped if Midwest can pay off the debt by Feb. 8.

Midwest was ordered last month to pay $380,817 to Northeast Asphalt Inc., of Green Bay, for work done on the park’s USA International Raceway. The judgment also entitled Northeast to a construction lien foreclosure.

Sheriff’s Lt. John Gutho, who handles most of the sheriff’s sales, said any number of things could happen before the sale date that would cause it to be canceled or adjourned.

"Lots of sales do get adjourned, canceled, different things happen. Even the day of the sale," Gutho said. "Last-minute bankruptcy, or at the last minute found a lender to bail them out."

Gutho also said that roughly nine times out of 10, the plaintiff will end up owning the property.

"Normally, an attorney on behalf of the plaintiff will start with an opening bid, normally the dollar amount of whatever money they’re owed. Then we go from there to ask for other bids," Gutho said. "Maybe in one sale out of 10 do we have an individual other than the plaintiff that buys the property."

Gutho said that’s usually because most properties sold off at such auctions have been mortgaged to the hilt, and the opening bid is far more than the value of the property.

The property was purchased in June 2003 from Water and Wheels Amusement Park, LLC, at a cost of $350,000. It was purchased on a land contract that calls for payments of $5,000 per month.

The racetrack opened in July 2004. Among the events hosted there have been a North America Can-Am Championship motorcycle racing event in June of this year and an American Motorcycle Association race on July 30.

Midwest Amusement Park and USA International Raceway are subsidiaries of the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology. SIST and its subsidiaries have purchased nearly $12 million worth of property in the area.

Representatives of Samanta Roy have told the Shawano Common Council that the properties – most of which have been commercial – are intended to support a future international boarding school in the Town of Wescott.

The attorney for Northeast Asphalt, Michael Hermes, and the attorney for Midwest Amusement Park, Rebekah Brown, did not return calls seeking a seeking a comment on this story.

Scott Paape, general manager/promoter of USA International Raceway, recently met with the Wescott Plan Commission to discuss the racetrack’s plans for 2006. He is scheduled to appear before the Plan Commission again next month to continue that discussion.

The civil suit that led to the judgment was actually filed in February by Heyrman Construction Co., of Green Bay, over payment due for work done at the race track. Northeast Asphalt joined the suit in June as an intervenor, but their claim has moved along faster.

Northeast Asphalt also filed a construction lien against the racetrack in March.

In addition to the civil suit, Heyrman in October filed a construction lien against Midwest Amusement Park in the amount of $74,421.

In April, a construction lien in the amount of $75,086 was filed against Midwest Amusement Park by Fencing Plus, of Sheldon, Wis.

Hugo & Bramschreiber Asphalt Co., of Sobieski, Wis. has also filed a small claims case against Midwest Amusement Park. That matter has been scheduled for a court trial on Dec. 27.

During a hearing on Northeast’s motion for judgment in November, Hermes argued that Midwest did not file an answer to its lawsuit, did not show up for depositions in the case, and refused to respond to a motion for discovery.

Shawano County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Grover granted Northeast’s motion for judgment, partly on grounds that Midwest had provided no legitimate excuse for failing answer to the company’s claim.

Midwest attorney Rebekah Brown told the court she did not become involved in the case until September. Previous council Winston Ostrow withdrew from the case in August.

Brown said that Midwest is disputing the amount owed to Northeast Asphalt because of problems they are having with the racetrack.

Hermes responded that Northeast would be willing to deal with any problems covered by the warranty, but that the warranty is not yet valid because Midwest has refused to pay for the work.

Hermes also said that Northeast recommended that Midwest Amusement Park hire an outside engineer for additional paving work after Northeast had finished construction. Regardless, he said, Midwest’s contention that the track is in need of repair is "a separate and distinct claim" that would not be affected by granting the judgment in Northeast Asphalt’s favor.

The original cost of the work was about $286,000 before 1.5 percent monthly finance charges were added.

Grover found in favor of Northeast Asphalt on Nov. 17. A subsequent order for judgment signed by Grover on Nov. 23 allowed the premises to be sold under the direction of the Shawano County Sheriff.

Kevin Gannon, vice president of Northeast Asphalt, said after the judgment hearing in November that the company would rather receive payment than see a foreclosure go forward.

"We just want to get paid for our work," he said. "We don’t want to own a racetrack."

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