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STEPHENVILLE (April 16, 2015) — The Erath County Livestock Association has sold land donated to it 52 years ago and, while ECLA representatives are excited to use funds from the sale for projects such as improving and maintaining the arena used for the Erath County Junior Livestock Show, not everyone is pleased with the sale.
While ECLA board members say they acted within their rights to sell unused property, many residents are upset and are claiming the sale of the land did not follow proper legal procedures.
“In 1963, farmers, ranchers and residents of Erath County came together to assist the local youth interested in putting a facility in place for horse-related events. It was called Erath County Livestock Association. Families donating money, labor and support were Foster, Lesley, Beyer, Stone, McNeil, Brown, Berry, Poston, Fambro, Evatt, Keeney, Cook, Oxford, Crimmins, Hampton, Spindor, Lewellen and others,” reads an attorney-approved statement released by the group Wednesday afternoon. “In the late 1960s, the Erath County Junior Livestock Show was moved to the ECLA facility from the Stephenville City Park, and more county residents joined ECLA. It is sad that a part of this facility was sold with no notice to the county residents.”
ECLA President Doug Shores says the board agreed two years ago in an open meeting to sell the property to raise funds to repair the barn and facilities still owned by the organization. He said the property was put up for sale by owner to avoid conflict of interest because one local realtor is on the board and another highly involved in the organization.
The land, a tract of 6.266 acres stretching from the gate of the property facing US Highway 377 to the back of the show barn – which along with the rodeo arena is still owned by ECLA – was recently sold to Danny Phillips, who plans to construct apartment homes on the property.
Shores told The Flash last week that “not one person was concerned with the sale of this property when we decided to sell it or when we considered the first offer, but now I’ve been informed we’re facing possible litigation over this.”
Indeed. Many concerned are petitioning the Texas Attorney General to investigate the sale of the property, claiming many ECLA members and county residents were not served proper notice of the board’s intent to sell the land.
The prepared statement by the group petitioning the action went on to say, “Opportunity knocked on ECLA’s door in October, 2014. The Cowboy Capital of the World Pro Rodeo Association wanted to renovate the old facility. This would benefit all as the arena and grounds are in bad shape and in need of help. ECLA sold off 6.266 acres that was needed for parking or growth.
“Proceeds from the sale of this land were to go to improve the show barn. What happens when the money is gone? It will be in the same condition as it is today,” reads the prepared statement, supported by the likes of Troy Brown, Neil Culpepper, Chad Decker, Ronnie Ray, David Martin, Barbara Hampton, Charles Farrar, Royce Carpenter, James Andrae, Joe Richardson and others. “Will more land be sold at this time? We need answers as to how they managed to sell the land.”