IROC Gets Huge Boost

DERBY — 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.“Today 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,” Phil White, executive director of IROC, said Wednesday.White called the donation from the Azur’s “extraordinarily generous.”The Azurs are well-know in the Kingdom for their philanthropy.“Melanie 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,” Fran Azur said.The Jenesis Group, aware of IROC’s financial troubles and the possibility of bankruptcy agreed to negotiate a settlement “They repeatedly indicated that they supported IROC’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,” White said.“Although there is a lot more hard work to be done, this gets us one big step closer to refinancing and restructuring our debt,” he added. “It was success enough for one day that Jenesis made this concession. But for Fran and Melanie Azur to make this payment on IROC’s behalf and clear this obligation from our books is a huge boost.”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.“It 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 members’ donations, financial as well as time and service, to Phil White’s generous unpaid dedication and leadership. We strongly believe that the success of IROC’s programs, combined with the success of Bill Stenger’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,” Azur said.IROC’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 “In Search of Memphre,” event, a 26-mile, international cross border swim being undertaken this weekend. Donations large and small are being accepted on the event’s web site in support of the Search for Memphre, in support of a more open Canadian-U.S. border, and in support of IROC.