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Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:15

Ghost Town and alderman at loggerheads

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Ghost Town CEO Steve Shiver threatened to sue Maggie Valley Alderman Colin Edwards during a town meeting this week.

Edwards attempted to speak out against Shiver’s request for a $200,000 loan from the town. But Shiver objected and refused to let Edwards finish speaking.

“I raise my objections,” Shiver said, cutting Edwards off. “Gentlemen, lady, I mean no disrespect but there are serious issues of conflict we have raised through our attorneys. I think in the next few weeks you will see some legal action.”

Edwards is part owner of Caroline-A-Contracting company, which built a retaining wall at Ghost Town. Edwards’ company filed a lien against Ghost Town after it failed to pay its full bill. Ghost Town in turn contested the claim, saying the retaining wall cracked. Edwards said the crack is due to a leaking water line in the hillside. Shiver claims it’s due to faulty work.

Shiver asked the town to bar Edwards from voting on the loan and from participating in any discussion on Ghost Town. However, while Edwards and Shiver may not get along, Edwards does not meet the litmus test for a financial conflict of interest that would bar him from voting. The only reason Edwards could be legally barred from voting is if he stands to gain financially from his vote, which he doesn’t, according to state statutes and Town Attorney Chuck Dickson.

Shiver claims that Edwards cannot render an impartial vote on anything pertaining to Ghost Town, however, and if he does so, Ghost Town will be denied its right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

Edwards said he intends to vote, however, and will vote “no” to the loan.

“They are just bullying, and I don’t bully real good at all,” Edwards said. “I am an elected official for Maggie Valley. I will vote and they can charge me if they want.”

Before Shiver cut Edwards off at the meeting, Edwards questioned the validity of Shiver’s claims that the park’s roller coaster was on track to pass inspections and open for the season. Edwards said he called the state’s chief amusement ride inspector before the meeting and learned that Ghost Town has not yet requested an official inspection.

Shiver said he would “not tolerate nor allow phone calls” by Edwards to the state amusement ride division. Shiver suggested Edwards was trying to sabotage Ghost Town by calling the state.

The Smoky Mountain News had called the same state ride inspector earlier in the day and was given the same information as Edwards — that Ghost Town has not yet made a formal request for ride inspections, for either the chairlift or the roller coaster. The information is public record and can be requested by anyone.

That said, there have been lots of verbal communication, emails and progress updates on the rides, according to Jonathan Brooks, Elevator & Amusement Device Bureau Chief with the state.

“I know they are working very diligently to put something together for us to come up and start inspecting. I know they are making headway,” Brooks said. There is still a big checklist for the roller coaster before it’s ready, however, Brooks said.

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