Windermere hearing delayed again - Word&Way

Windermere hearing delayed again

Jefferson City — A temporary restraining order against Windermere Baptist Conference Center has been extended again.

At an April 10 hearing in his chambers in Jefferson City, Cole County Circuit Judge Thomas Brown extended the order to April 24. Missouri Baptist Convention attorneys requested the extension in an effort to take the deposition of William R. Jester, owner of Resource Development Inc. in Springfield.

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 the center and its assets.

The judge delayed hearings set for Feb. 15 and Feb. 28 for an injunction against Windermere and continued the temporary restraining order.

Center administrators had transferred title to 941 acres in a special warranty deed in November as part of a debt-restructuring plan with National City Bank of Cincinnati to reduce the center's debt from $21 million to $14 million.

Windermere Development Company Inc., started and owned by Jester, purchased the acreage from the bank on Feb. 24.

The temporary restraining order against Windermere is part of the convention's broader legal action against the center, Word&Way, The Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist University and the Missouri Baptist Foundation that began in 2002.

The MBC filed suit against the five institutions on Aug. 13 that year in an effort to force them to rescind changes to their corporate charters.

In 2000, The Home changed its charter to allow board members to elect the entity's trustees themselves. The other four institutions took the same action in 2001.

At the April 10 hearing, Judge Brown ruled that university attorneys can depose former convention lawyer Mark Comley. The convention had argued that much of Comley's information would be protected by attorney/client privilege or could be found from other sources.

University attorney Clyde Farris withdrew a motion to depose all current members of the MBC Executive Board.

Afterward, Farris said most of the questions he had planned to ask Executive Board members may be answered in an amended version of the current legal action that MBC attorneys have indicated they plan to file soon. (04-20-06)