By Vicki Brown, Word&Way Associate Editor
Jefferson City — Cole County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Brown granted a continuance in the Missouri Baptist Convention's request for a preliminary injunction against Windermere Baptist Conference Center.
MBC attorney Charles Hatfield requested the delay for the hearing that had been set for Feb. 1. He requested the delay because the MBC has not completed taking depositions for the case. The hearing has been rescheduled to Feb. 15 at 11 a.m. at the Cole County Courthouse in Jefferson City.
Temporary restraining order
At a Dec. 19 hearing, Judge Brown granted an MBC request for a temporary restraining order to prohibit Windermere's trustees and corporate officers from selling or encumbering the center's real estate until the court determines who controls Windermere and its assets.
Windermere officials had transferred title to 1,000 acres in a special warranty deed as part of a debt-restructuring plan. According to Windermere officials, the acreage has not been developed and is not suitable for development. That plan also includes a bond sale.
The MBC has been locked in a legal battle since it filed legal action against Windermere, Word&Way, The Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist University and the Missouri Baptist Foundation on Aug. 13, 2002.
In 2000, The Home changed its charter to allow board members to elect the entity's trustees themselves. The other four agencies followed suit in 2001. Before the charters were changed, messengers to each MBC annual meeting elected the institutions' trustees.
Limited logging operations at Windermere also had been questioned. Interim administrator Dan Bench noted in a recent phone interview that trees have been cut in line with a recommendation by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Conservationists recommended older, larger trees should be harvested in select areas. The conservation department does not harvest trees but offers a list of private companies that do so.
Windermere administrators chose to work with Midwest Forest Consultants to harvest timber from 1,072 acres. Harvesting started with 125 acres in December 2004, with the effort spread over about 18 months.
The final phase, which includes 183 acres, is scheduled to be completed in March.
Windermere trustees met in regular session on Jan. 31. Most of that meeting was held behind closed doors to discuss legal issues with attorneys and to cover personnel matters. (02-06-06)