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Rock Bridge Canyon Trail still open despite looming foreclosure sale

With a foreclosure sale looming later this month, Hodges’ Rock Bridge Canyon Equestrian Trail remains open for business, at least for now.

State Bank and Trust of Winfield took the required legal steps to publish the town’s default on a $750,000 note secured by the park’s campground property, arena, camp store and the surrounding property. The foreclosure sale is set for Monday, November 27, 2017.

When contacted by the Free Press Monday, an employee with Rock Bridge Canyon said the park remains open and is still accepting reservations for camping. The employee said she had not been notified to stop taking reservations.

Repeated calls to Hodges mayor Terry Petree and Hodges City Hall were unanswered.

Dana Peoples, branch manager at State Bank and Trust, declined to answer questions when contacted Monday. She referred any inquiry to the bank’s attorney, Diane Henderson. Henderson did not return a message left with her office Monday morning.

Although nobody wants to talk about it on the record, the foreclosure appears imminent. The note is one of two on the property, along with a $500,000 note to First National Bank in Hamilton. According to a source familiar with the park, the State Bank and Trust note is secured and has first priority.

The apparent default is the latest in a series of negative publicity incurred by the park.

When former park director Mike Franklin resigned last November, Franklin, seen by many as the face of the facility, said he was forced out by Petree. Petree said he was only trying to save expenses when he made a motion at a council meeting last year to change Franklin’s salary to an hourly wage.

After Franklin’s departure, Deborah and Danny Avery, owners of Rock Bridge Canyon and Franklin’s sister and brother-in-law, rescinded the park’s use of the canyon, saying that Franklin’s involvement with the park was a condition precedent to their allowing park users access to the canyon.

There remains pending litigation between the Avery’s and the town relating to fees for use of the canyon that the Avery’s say were not paid to them.

Petree posted a notice on social media last December reiterating that the park was open for business and was accepting reservations for 2017.

With the prospect of the facility being sold on the steps of the Franklin County Courthouse, the future of what was once one of the county’s best tourism attractions is in jeopardy. Described as a ‘treasure’ on its web page, RBC Equestrian Park has events scheduled through the end of the year, including a benefit ride November 25, two days before the scheduled foreclosure sale.

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