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UPDATE: Golf course owners, group close to final purchase agreement

Vern Mohr is conducting a sidewalk pledge drive for the Pomme de Terre golf course in Morris.

Owners of the Pomme de Terre Golf Club and a group arranging a public purchase of the course are closing in on a deal but more funds still need to be raised.

The committee met with owners Joe Riley, John Riley and Chris Leman on Sunday.

As of Tuesday, the committee raising money for the public purchase had $510,000 of the $600,000 needed to buy the course. The owners, however, will retain an $88,000 equipment loan in exchange for 25 percent of any profit the course might turn in the future.

With the group wanting to start business with a $50,000 reserve, about $140,000 needs to be raised by a March 25 deadline, committee member Doug Stahman said.

"It's doable if everybody makes the kind of commitment they know they need to make," Stahman said. "We can do it."

In addition, the owners agreed to include in the purchase price about 7-1/2 acres of undeveloped lots in the Creek Side housing development adjacent to the course.

The group has raised money from 214 individuals and couples and 32 corporate groups. Stahman said that that many people pledging their involvement since the club was put up for sale Feb. 22 is a great accomplishment.

Shares are being sold at $1,000 each. Stahman says the group has until March 25 to reach its commitment.

"Before, we were just trying to raise enough money to see if we could even make an offer," Stahman said. "Now, we've got an agreement. There's no signed letter of intent but we're getting there. It's a win-win."

The owners are comfortable with the offer as it stands and that they are confident the public push to buy the club will succeed, Leman said.

"As many businesses and individuals still out there (who intend to pledge), they're sitting in a pretty good spot," Leman said.

Joe Riley and John Riley recently reported to begin serving 3-1/2 year federal prison terms following sentencing for tax evasion. The sentences also included each paying $250,000 fines.

Leman, the club manager, said that if the public purchase is arranged, he is planning to remain with the club through the end of June to guide the transition to new management. As pressed as the owners were to sell, they wanted to ensure the public purchase plan received a fair shake, Leman said.

"We realize that as much as we need to raise some money, (the course) is a huge asset to the community and we wanted to help out with the plan," Leman said.

Committee member Rick Stark said the club owners were "more than fair" during the fundraising and negotiations, adding that the asking price is probably low considering the condition of the newly refurbished 18-hole course and new clubhouse.

Owners also allowed the group more time after originally setting a March 18 deadline for a deal, Stark said.

"Throughout the whole process, Joe, John and Chris have been nothing but great about this," Stark said. "They want it to stay a golf course and they've been very generous."

Once a final agreement is in place, a corporate entity will need to be formed and shareholders will need to elect a board; the current committee has no power to operate the club and is serving only as a fundraising arm, Stark said.

Before that can happen, however, the goal is clear as the March 25 deadline approaches, he said.

"Our message to people now is that there's no more waiting," Stark said.