PETERSBURG, Va. -- As many people shopped for holiday gifts on Black Friday, one business owner was trying to figure out how to avoid laying off workers before Christmas.
Schellee Long, the co-owner of Venture Turf, repossessed equipment from the Petersburg-owned Dogwood Trace Golf Course in an effort to recoup some of the money her company is owed.
Long said the city owes Venture Turf nearly $60,000. As a result, she said the business is just days away from filing for bankruptcy.
“It’s a weekly struggle to make payroll, and I just can’t take it anymore,” Long said.
Long said for ten years her company was hired to manage the Dogwood Trace Golf Course in Petersburg.
Due to financial struggles, the city let them go this summer, but in turn still rented the equipment from Long on a lease to maintain the golf course.
“They were three months back date on the management fees when they let us go so we said if you continue to pay us, even if it’s not all at once, we’ll sign the contract,” said Long.
Long said the city now owes her business nearly $60,000 total, with around $50,000 of that from management fees, the rest from late rental equipment.
Because of this, Long said she may have to let some of her employees go.
“We know these people intimately,” said Long. “We’ve worked with them, most have been with us for quite a few years.”
Because she still hasn’t gotten paid, Long had to repossess the equipment at the golf course Friday morning.
Long said she has someone who will buy the equipment immediately so she can get some money.
“We’ve just come to that point where we have to do what we have to do,” said Long, “they’re not paying us, and there’s $200,000 worth of equipment in there that’s ours.”
The repossession left some regular golfers at the course concerned how the course will stay open without maintenance equipment.
“I’m hoping that the City of Petersburg can get it together and pay these people, they deserved to be paid,” said one golfer.
WTVR CBS 6 took these concerns to Vice Mayor Samuel Parham.
Parham said they have a plan in place and the golf course will remain open.
“We’re working to pay up a lot of our vendors and definitely this will be taken care of and it won’t interfere with the function of the golf course,” said Parham.
The Robert Bobb group also issued this statement:
Robert Bobb, president of the Robert Bobb Group, said, “We are working very hard to create short term financing and we are on track. I ask citizens to be patient. We have to keep the pedal to the metal and keep Petersburg disciplined and on plan. Without public safety and a Petersburg City workforce, we will not have a functioning city or a municipal golf course.
Gamie Fagan, Dogwood’s golf professional states, “We are very sorry Venture Turf feels the need to remove their leased equipment from the Dogwood Petersburg Municipal Golf Course. We will continue to operate the course and continue to be open to the public. It is important to our City’s future to maintain our ranking of being #7 best course in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
“We believe all citizens of the City of Petersburg are part of the solution to the budget crisis that has presented itself. By realizing this crisis, addressing the needs of our citizens, employees, businesses, government officials, and tourists, we will complete our mission of stabilizing our great city. We have always been a diverse community and we will continue to be one as we progress through this difficult time. “ Robert Bobb, The Robert Bobb Group, LLC.