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Mark `closed for good,' state hears

Landmark's owner can't pay workers, lawyers

ASHLAND -- The Mark Antony Hotel apparently will not reopen, at leastunder its present ownership.

Stand- Corp. of Reno, Nev., which owns the downtown Ashland landmark,contacted the state Bureau of Labor and Industries because it could notpay the wages of 23 employees idled by the hotel's closure Monday.

The manager said they're closed for good and have no money to paythe attorneys to convert their bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 to cover the payroll,said Joan Stevens-Schwenger, a spokeswoman for the state agency.

Joe Burkhardt, president of Stand- Corp., could not be reached forcomment.

The hotel closed Monday after the city of Ashland shut off its powerfor failure to pay an electric bill. In April, Stand- Corp. sought protectionfrom creditors under a Chapter 11 reorganization plan of the U.S. BankruptcyAct.

Last month, the Office of the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee in Eugene fileda motion asking the bankruptcy court judge to convert the case to a Chapter7 liquidation, which would force the hotel to close and be sold to pay creditors.Or the judge could dismiss the Chapter 11 proposal, forcing the owners topay creditors or seek Chapter 7 on their own. The hotel faces a Friday deadlineto submit a reorganization plan.

In such bankruptcy cases, employees who have lost their jobs have priorityamong creditors, Stevens-Schwenger said.

We paid out the workers from the Wage Security Fund in Februarywhen the former owners of the hotel, Quantum Five, couldn't make the payroll,she said.

At that time, 27 employees were paid $22,000 in back wages.

The bureau had billed the present hotel owners for those back wages andis now among creditors seeking payment through the bankruptcy court.

Our advice to employees is that if it looks like your company isnot going to make payroll, think twice about working there, Stevens-Schwengersaid. There have probably been several employees who have gone backto work for the hotel again and again, and this must feel pretty bad.

Ashland officials said they switched off the power because a $6,600 electricbill remained unpaid after two months.

The company has listed the Mark Antony's assets as $1.8 million and debtsof $3.77 million, including a $1.6 million federal tax lien.

The 1997 Jackson County tax rolls list the Mark Antony's value at slightlymore than $2.7 million.

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