ISC to vacate by July 1

Sue Guinn Legg • Feb 7, 2012 at 11:58 PM

GREENEVILLE — The International Storytelling Center’s plan for bankruptcy reorganization will proceed to a confirmation hearing with no objections and only few amendments suggested by its creditors.

In a hearing held Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, attorney Mark Dessauer told Judge Marcia Phillips the storytelling center’s creditors have not stated any objections to the ISC’s financial disclosure and reorganization plan, although two creditors and the U.S. Trustee’s Office have proposed amendments to which the ISC has agreed.

Phillips granted Dessauer’s request to file for the amended disclosure statement and reorganization plan within seven days, after which ISC’s creditors — the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development and Bank of America — will have five days to review and file any objections to amended documents. If no objections are submitted, Phillips said she would file an order declaring the amended disclosure statement adequate and schedule a confirmation hearing on the reorganization plan for late March or early April.

The reorganization plan includes ISC’s surrender of its building in Jonesborough’s historic downtown district, continuation of its annual storytelling festival and year-round Teller in Residence programs and reappointment of Jimmy Neil Smith as ISC president emeritus, with his duties limited to consulting, development and marketing and having no input on the center’s financial management.

Dessauer told Phillips Tuesday the revised plan will include amendments of the salaries the ISC will pay Smith and other remaining staff members requested by the Trustee’s Office and agreed to by the ISC. The amended document also will include Bank of America’s agreement to reduce the interest ISC owes on a secured claim held by the bank to 3 percent.

While the reorganization plan originally included stipulations for the ISC to repay approximately $155,000 in priority and secured debts owed for taxes and professional services over a five-year period, Dessauer told Phillips Tuesday the ISC has amended the amount to about $175,000 to include some attorneys fees.

The plan also calls for the ISC to repay $225,000 of $1.75 million to $2 million in unsecured debt owed to a total of 34 creditors over a three-year period, The debt includes a $1.311 million balance on ISC’s outstanding $2.6 million debt to Rural Development after the surrender of its building, and $123,000 owed to Bank of America on the bank’s purchase of a $482,000 bond series issued by Jonesborough’s Industrial Development Board for the the building’s construction in 2002.

While ISC and Rural Development have agreed for the ISC to vacate the building by July 1, Dessauer said Tuesday that Rural Development has agreed to give ISC a 30-day notice to vacate the property as it proceeds toward a foreclosure sale.

“They have to give us 30 days and we will take that. We know it will take them at least that long to proceed to foreclosure,” he said.

Upon the Bankruptcy Court’s confirmation of the reorganization plan, creditors whose original claims have been modified by the plan, including Rural Development, Bank of America, the Town of Jonesborough, the Tennessee Department of Revenue and others, will be allowed to vote whether to accept the plan.

Upon its surrender of the building, the plan calls for the ISC to continue operating from its offices in the neighboring Chester Inn and to focus exclusively on the production of its annual storytelling festival and its year-round Teller in Residence program. Within 12 to 18 months of the reorganization plan’s confirmation, the board is to hire a new chief operating officer to replace Smith, who resigned from the position on Jan. 1.

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