Attorneys for Graves, Rogers, bank refuse to disclose settlement details

Attorneys for U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers and a North Georgia bank are refusing to disclose the details of a settlement they reached Wednesday in a legal battle over a disputed loan agreement.

The bank had been suing the two Republicans, alleging they had defaulted on a $2.2 million loan Bartow County Bank issued them in 2007 to buy and renovate a motel in Calhoun. Bartow County Bank failed April 15. Hamilton State Bank purchased Bartow County Bank’s assets and had taken over the lawsuit targeting Graves and Rogers. Hamilton dismissed the lawsuit Wednesday.

Graves and Rogers had filed counterclaims against Bartow, alleging it improperly declared the loan in default after reneging on a promise to refinance it at more favorable terms. They dismissed their counterclaims Wednesday.

That same day,  Graves said through a spokesman that the parties had “committed to finding a positive solution and I am pleased to share that our common goal has been achieved. I am happy this matter is fully resolved in an equitable and fair manner.”

Simon Bloom, an attorney for Graves and Rogers, said Thursday he could not disclose the terms of the settlement. Edward Hine, an attorney for Hamilton State Bank, also declined to comment.

Meanwhile, a top Calhoun official said he was looking into whether Wednesday’s settlement will have any impact on what remains of the motel on Red Bud Road near Interstate 75.

Calhoun officials say the gutted building is now a nuisance and a safety concern. They have been considering fencing it off and tearing it down at taxpayer expense, estimating the total cost could exceed $100,000. At the same time, about $41,500 combined in unpaid Gordon County and Calhoun real estate taxes, penalties and interest going back to 2009 are due on the property, public records show.

Rogers and Graves have said they are no longer associated with the motel. They said they entered a contract in 2009 to transfer its ownership and the company that took out the bank loan to buy and renovate it – Tich Hospitality – to a man named John Edens. The inn lost power in February after Edens fell behind in paying about $11,000 to North Georgia EMC for his utility bills, a Calhoun official said. Edens ultimately closed the motel and moved on.