With a sigh of relief, Mayor Bret George said this week that the Town of Byron no longer owns the former Byron school buildings and land deeded to the town last year by Big Horn County School District One.
The $70,000 sale was closed on Monday, March 12, through Big Horn County Title Co. in Basin, said the mayor. The new owner of the property is Alex John Campos, of Duluth, Ga. A business owner whose properties include All American Payment Plan LLC, Campos proposes to initially use part of the former school as a call center that could have up to 100 employees.
Other uses for the site have not been announced, but as the buildings comprise some 95,000 square feet of space on approximately seven acres of land, there is room for numerous endeavors. The mayor said Monday that Campos “has made no other confirmations, but it’s my understanding that he’ll be looking for tenants.”
George added, “It’s a relief that we no longer have the school on our debt list. It’s relieving that we no longer own it; it is a good thing.”
The mayor said he believes that the new owner, among his first revisions, will have work undertaken to revamp the boiler system. The system now covers the entire facility, but it’s indicated that sections will be isolated so that there will be utility zones.
It was noted during a town council meeting Tuesday night, March 13, that Campos has said that he will turn over part of the building to the town, said Councilman Alan Bair. Such portions will be available for use by the town recreation department. Bair and the mayor both have said that they are looking forward with great anticipation to an expanded rec program.
The sale closure comes subsequent to a special council meeting, attended by 18 persons besides the mayor and council, during the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 27. During the meeting of approximately 40 minutes, the mayor reviewed a new contract with changes made by Campos. The pact, which now is history, is “for the purchase price of $70,000 which (comprises) the purchase of the school and the lease of the Home Ec Cottage and the future purchase of the Auto Shop if the town ever comes into possession of it,” according to unapproved minutes of the meeting. George said Monday that the lease is for 99 years.
The unapproved minutes further note that, “The mayor pointed out Article Seven as a major concern. He doesn’t believe this article can be included in this purchase contract. He believes the council cannot sign a contract to agree to sell property that does not belong to the town. In regard to the proposed lease agreement for the Home Economic Cottage and property, the lessee is asking the council to agree to give (him) an option to purchase this building. According to state statute, the council has to follow a process in order to enter into any contract for purchase of property over $500 that belongs to the town and the mayor stated that they have not gone through that process in regard to the Home Economics Cottage.
“After a lengthy discussion, Alan Bair made a motion to accept the contract presented. (Councilman) Marie McCollam seconded the motion. Again, there was an extensive discussion as well as a call to the town legal counsel. The mayor called for a vote on the motion … Bair, McCollam and fellow councilors Dennis Cozzens and Gilbert Cordova voted in favor. (The mayor) voted against … and it passed with a 4-1 vote.”
Despite his opposition the mayor signed the offer, but rescinded it the next day, said McCollam and another source. George was advised by his legal counsel to not have his signature on the document, the sources said. Therefore, McCollam as mayor pro tem signed the offer, which was submitted to Campos and which he accepted.
“He (George) has some concerns about some aspects of the offer,” noted McCollam, “and I respect that, but we as the council voted 4-1 for the offer.”