June 2019 Special Meeting Minutes

Board of Trustees

Special Called Meeting

June 27, 2019

The North Arkansas College Board of Trustees met in Special Session on Thursday, 27 June 2019, in the Bennie Ellis Board Room on the South Campus. Chair Bill Lovell called the meeting to order at 4:00 p.m. Trustees Kevin Cheri, R.G. Earnest, David Evans, Sara Jo Fendley, Chris McNew, Scott Miller, Sarah Newman, and Don Tomlinson were present.

North Arkansas College personnel attending included Brandon Cone, Sarah Bing, Dr. Rick Massengale, Don Sugg, Joe Berry, Ricci Dillon, Micki Somers, Mandy Kilbourn, and Dr. Randy Esters. Also present were James White of the Harrison Daily Times, Caitlin Sinett of KY3, Jerry Jackson and Luke Feighert of the City of Harrison, and Jeff Crockett.

Approval of Agenda

Chair Lovell asked if there were any changes to the agenda. There being none, Trustee McNew moved that the agenda be accepted. The motion was seconded by Trustee Miller and unanimously approved.

Consent Agenda

The Consent Agenda included New Position—Associate Controller. Don Sugg clarified that this is actually an upgraded position. A payroll coordinator moved; in reviewing her position before posting the opening it was found that she had been focused mostly on accounting and had served as a back-up for payroll. The new position will be back-up for both payroll and the Controller. There were 21 applicants, with three who rose to the top due to their credentials and experience. The hiring committee has recommended Mrs. Uriel Harp for the position. She is part of a local family, has earned her CPA and MBA, and has 16 years of accounting experience. Chair Lovell asked for a motion to approve the recommendation, which was made by Trustee Cheri. Trustee Newman seconded the motion, which was unanimously approved.

Chair Lovell added that the College is fortunate to find someone of Mrs. Harp’s caliber.

New Business

Dr. Esters reminded everyone that a problem with the Center Campus tower was first identified in July 2018. The following month, Northark personnel started vacating the tower due to serious health concerns due to the mold present throughout the building. Over the course of the last year, the College has listened closely and carefully to all opinions from professionals, community members, the Board of Trustees, and the Center Campus committee. He added that although we will regret not having the building any longer, we will not regret the time and consideration that have gone into making a decision. He said he is hopeful that something good will come out of this situation.

He shared that we originally understood the terms of the bond to mean that ownership of the Durand Center could only be transferred to a public entity. However, the bond attorney later informed the College that it could be sold to a private entity as long as any received funds were used to either pay toward the bond or for a capital project within two years. That being the case, Northark called for proposals. Four proposals were received from three entities: PowerMax, the City of Harrison, and Jeff Crockett. Offers ranged from $40,000 to $712,500, with a tower demolition request as part of the city’s proposal.

Don Sugg added that one anticipated concern was the value of the highest proposal in relation to the appraised value of the campus ($1.19M). He shared that the Center Campus has operated in the red since the start, averaging a loss of $16,806 monthly. Without the College being required to demolish the tower, that savings combined with the offer from Crockett and the monthly savings would exceed the appraised amount in just two months.

Dr. Esters told the Board that after considering the proposed usage, he was recommending the Board accept Jeff Crockett’s proposal. The proposal includes operating the Durand Center as a conference center of the same name, maintaining the Durand Center offices and meeting spaces, and rehabilitating the tower to create office and retail space. The proposal saves the Durand Center and the tower, both of which have been important to the local community. It also provides a positive financial impact for the college.

Chair Lovell asked for a motion, and the following motion was made by Trustee Earnest:

“Mr. Chair, I have two motions. First, I move that we reconsider our prior motions relating to the disposition of the Center Campus to the extent those motions conflict with the business of this meeting. Motions approved today shall supersede any conflicting prior board actions. Second, if that first motion passes, I move that we accept that purchase offer for the Center Campus proposed by Mr. Jeff Crockett on Tuesday, June 25, in the amount of $712,500, and therefore authorize the College and its representatives, which shall include outside legal counsel, to negotiate the transfer of the Center Campus to Mr. Crockett or an entity that he wholly owns. The transfer must be ‘as is’ and pursuant to the terms set forth in the proposal, as well as any other terms that the College and its representatives determine are in the best interests of the College and the local community, including a provision to continue the use of the ‘Durand Center’ name for a reasonable period of time. Furthermore, the transfer and its terms shall be subject to any required State of Arkansas approvals.”

Chair Lovell explained that the two motions would be considered separately, asking for a second. Trustee Evans seconded the first motion, which was unanimously approved. Trustee Evans then seconded the second motion, and Chair Lovell asked for a roll-call vote. The motion passed by unanimous vote.

Board Comments

Dr. Esters then thanked Mr. Crockett for his investment in the College and in the city of Harrison, saying the building had started as a bank then become a College and that he looks forward to seeing what its third life will be.  Chair Lovell thanked the Board for their careful consideration regarding the Center Campus. He said that he believes this to be in the best interest of the College and the community, first from a financial aspect to the College, then in honoring the Durand Center name thanks to Mr. Crockett’s commitment, and finally by preserving the tower. Trustee Miller moved that the meeting be adjourned, which passed by unanimous vote.