The Herald, Sharon, PA Published Monday, December 8, 2003

Quiet settlement ends MCIDA-Winner spat

By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor

An 18-month dispute between officials of Mercer County Industrial Development Authority and Winner Development LLC, which at times drew fiery exchanges, has been settled.

Friday, the MCIDA board approved a settlement with the Sharon company.

MCIDA in June sued Winner Development for more than $31,000 the authority board said it was owed for legal and administrative expenses it incurred to help the company apply for a $7 million grant to develop the former Westinghouse Electric Corp. complex in Sharon.

MCIDA officials said that despite repeated requests, the company failed to supply information on 21 conditions set by the state in order to get the grant.

Winner Development, headed by James E. Winner Jr., dropped the application through MCIDA, complaining the authority board was hindering its efforts. Winner is now seeking a grant through the city of Sharon.

After the suit was filed, Winner Development gave MCIDA additional funds, reducing the disputed amount to $14,454. The company recently offered to settle the suit by giving the authority $10,245.

After the board broke for an executive session to discuss the offer, Charles Bestwick, MCIDA's chairman, asked the authority's solicitor Tom Kuster if it would be costly to go after the remaining $4,211. Kuster responded that amount was less than the legal fees would be.

With no further discussion, the board voted 4-1 to accept the settlement. Bestwick, Joseph Loedding, William McKnight and Douglas Riley OK'd the settlement, while Brian Beader opposed it.

After the meeting Beader, a county commissioner-elect, said he felt the authority should be paid in full. Beader will leave MCIDA, effective Dec. 31 to take his elected post.

The settlement check was already received by MCIDA and was placed in escrow, pending the board's action. Kuster said the matter is now closed.

Winner gave an eight-word response to MCIDA's decision: "I'm glad to have this all behind me."

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