DERBY â€” Indoor Recreation of Orleans County (IROC) reduced a large portion of its debt load Wednesday when Fran Azur and Melanie Gefert, of Newport Center and Pennsylvania, stepped in to help IROC settle a large debt.
Azur negotiated with The Jenesis Group in a deal where Azur paid $65,000 toward the IROC debt of $650,000 and fully eliminated the debt. The unsecured note of $650,000 was to come due Nov. 1 and could have forced IROC into bankruptcy.
In August, IROC revealed its dire financial problems after realizing its debt would not be refinanced with VEDA. The $650,000 note with the Jenesis Group was a major obstacle in the refinance process.
Fran Azur wired the money to the Group and then received necessary paper work, he said.
â€śToday IROC owes $650,000 less than it did a week ago, thanks to the willingness of The Jenesis Group to accept $65,000 in full payment of its $650,000 note,â€ť Phil White, executive director of IROC, said Wednesday.
White called the donation from the Azurâ€™s â€śextraordinarily generous.â€ť
The Azurs are well-know in the Kingdom for their philanthropy.
â€śMelanie and I are pleased to be a part of helping IROC in its tremendous progress towards developing a great community resource in The Northeast Kingdom,â€ť Fran Azur said.
The Jenesis Group, aware of IROCâ€™s financial troubles and the possibility of bankruptcy agreed to negotiate a settlement
â€śThey repeatedly indicated that they supported IROCâ€™s mission and valued its emerging role in our community. This was a huge concession, one which we appreciate greatly. It clears a major hurdle for us and we are very thankful to The Jenesis Group,â€ť White said.
â€śAlthough there is a lot more hard work to be done, this gets us one big step closer to refinancing and restructuring our debt,â€ť he added. â€śIt was success enough for one day that Jenesis made this concession. But for Fran and Melanie Azur to make this payment on IROCâ€™s behalf and clear this obligation from our books is a huge boost.â€ť
In August, the IROC board decided to close the pool as it was becoming a significant financial strain on the center to operate and was causing structural problems in parts of the building due to excessive moisture.
During the same time in August, IROC launched a fundraising campaign and began seeking more volunteers to help keep the doors open. The facility also began charging a small fee for the walking rack and computer use.
â€śIt is inspiring to see how our community has locked elbows together to produce great events promoting our area as well as a providing a great resource for our Northeast Kingdom neighbors and friends, from the tremendous volunteer efforts, local community membersâ€™ donations, financial as well as time and service, to Phil Whiteâ€™s generous unpaid dedication and leadership. We strongly believe that the success of IROCâ€™s programs, combined with the success of Bill Stengerâ€™sefforts to bring economic opportunitiesto our community,together are making our area a home of which future generations can be proud, as well as a home where they can enjoy personal economic opportunities,â€ť Azur said.
IROCâ€™s debt load was $2.2-millon in August prior to the Jenesis pay-off, and other pay-offs.
Over the past four weeks, IROC has also raised over $62,000 in cash, pledges and write-offs of debt and payables, including more than $20,000 raised by the participants of the â€śIn Search of Memphre,â€ť event, a 26-mile, international cross border swim being undertaken this weekend. Donations large and small are being accepted on the eventâ€™s web site www.insearchofmemphre.com in support of the Search for Memphre, in support of a more open Canadian-U.S. border, and in support of IROC.