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Sale of sewer plant settles suit
Investor group included former elected officials
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Forsyth County News

A group of local investors ended up in the red -- but out of court -- after selling a Lumpkin County sewer plant.

In July, the Bank of North Georgia sued WRF Georgia’s investors, which include four former elected officials—Mike Evans, John Kieffer, Paul Kreager and Clint Day.

To avoid lengthy litigation, Kieffer said the group last month sold the Lumpkin County Wastewater Treatment Plant and Disposal System to Aqua America, a drinking and wastewater service provider.

“It was sold at a bit of a loss, but we were able to resolve the litigation,” Kieffer said. “Aqua has asked me to stay on to help them through the transition. So for the next 90 days at least, I’ll be involved in helping them get their feet on the ground here in Georgia.”

The civil lawsuit asked WRF to pay the remaining principal balance of more than $1.9 million, in addition to future interest payments, attorney fees and other expenses resulting from default.

Kieffer had previously said the 8.75 percent interest rate charged by the bank was unrealistic. He had unsuccessfully asked the bank to reduce the $18,000 monthly payments to $10,000.

The plant was being managed by Lumpkin County and continues to serve 10 large commercial clients, including a nearby Home Depot.

Kieffer said the operations of the facility “never missed a beat."

"It is fully funded and running just fine,” he said.

Evans said there was no doubt the issue would be resolved.

“We had a buyer who wanted to buy what is a great plant in what will once again be a growing area,” he said. “The bank knew all this, they just had to go through some posturing before we could get it completed and done with.

“We are happy that it's behind us.”

In total, seven investors were involved.

They included: Day, a former state senator who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate and lieutenant governor; Kreager, who once served on Forsyth County's school board; and Evans, a former state legislator and past chairman of the state's transportation department.

Evans also had mounted a campaign for the 9th District Congressional seat before withdrawing from the race last week, citing finances.

Other investors in the sewer plant were John Cirello, Charles Perry and James Perry, though Kieffer said he was the only hands-on investor.

“This is a sign of the times, you know,” Kieffer said. "There are a lot of industries and companies that are suffering through these economic times and we are no different.

“We are proud that we didn’t turn our back on our responsibilities and we were able to get this resolved.”