Soos – sportsman’s club has first dibs on Cedar Lake
By Ray Dyer
Judy Soos told Canadian County commissioners on Monday that if the land and building used to house the Cedar Lake Fire Department ceases to be used by Canadian County, the Western Sportsman’s Club has first dibs at buying it back.
Soos serves as fire chief of the all-volunteer Cedar Lake department. She’s been attending the weekly county commission meetings since it was learned the Cedar Lake Fire Department building was sold at a recent county surplus auction. While the property was not supposed to be coded by the county as surplus, when it was donated by the Western Sportsman’s Club in 2000, it was apparently tagged that way.
The club originally deeded the land to Canadian County so it could qualify for a state grant to help build the fire station. The Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) grants can only go to government entities. Canadian County served as a “pass-through” for the grant, county officials said. Soos said she “believed the grant was for $50,000.” She said another $40,000 in improvements have been made to the building over the years.
Soos said in the original agreement it “clearly stipulates” that if the property ceases to be used for the intended purpose, the Western Sportsman’s Club has the first “right of refusal” to buy it back.
Commissioners agreed to table the item “indefinitely” until an agreement can be worked out with Howie Sutton, the Canadian County employee who purchased the property at the May 1 surplus auction. Sutton reportedly works in maintenance for the county. A Howard Sutton is listed as an employee on the Canadian County website. A voice message left for him at the county maintenance phone number was not returned by press time.
The sale price for the Cedar Lake property was reported to be $100.
Commissioner David Anderson said Assistant District Attorney Paul Hesse has been negotiating with legal representatives for Sutton.
County Treasurer Carolyn Leck said the DA was expecting to have more discussion with Sutton’s representatives this week.
Anderson said the county will “take whatever action” is needed to have the sale rescinded. He said that includes legal action if necessary.
Leck said this was only the second time since 1994 that a property was incorrectly coded, allowing it to be purchased at the surplus auction. She said the first incident was easily corrected when the buyer agreed to have the sale rescinded.
Leck said all county properties have been re-examined to make sure coding is accurate.
Following the meeting, Soos said it was “no accident” that the property was purchased at this time. She said it’s been coded as “surplus for 14 years, why now?”
Soos said Sutton has purchased six properties in the Cedar Lake area. Each property requires a $400 per year association fee. She said Sutton may be upset with the Western Sportsman’s Club over the assessments.