In response to a statement issued and published from Brushy Mountain Golf Club Owner Baxter Hayes, Joel Harbinson the attorney for the County Board of Education issued a statement today:
As a policy, I usually do not try legal cases in the media. That’s what courts are for. But in light of Mr. Hayes’ decision to issue a statement in an obvious intent to influence public opinion, I have no choice but to respond on behalf of my clients.
In every year, whether in the past with Joe Ferguson or now with Lew Ferguson, the ACHS golf team has had an amicable relationship with BMGC. The one year that Mr. Hayes was personally involved, a problem arose. When talks began about the 2016 ACHS golf team playing at BMGC, Mr. Hayes sent the school administration and golf coach a “draft budget” estimating his costs at $3,608. The school administration and coach interpreted that, as most reasonable people would, as a bill or invoice. Since the athletic department had only $600 budgeted for the golf team, they had no choice but to seek the use of another golf course. Only later did Mr. Hayes convey that his “draft budget” was not a bill. When the “misunderstanding” arose, numerous attempts were made to reconcile the problem with Mr. Hayes. It soon became apparent that we could not work out a compromise with Mr. Hayes due to his insistence that the golf team return immediately — even though the school system had already committed for the season to another golf course. Talks ended in May 2016 when Mr. Hayes cancelled a scheduled meeting with school officials and informed us that he would be turning the matter over to his attorney.
As to Mr. Hayes’ assertions that the school system then conspired to undermine BMGC, there could be nothing further from the truth. Several school board members retained their club memberships after the controversy — with one member actually joining afterwards. The Sports Hall of Fame, associated with the school system, held its annual banquet there in November 2016. When DPI conducted a school facilities study in the fall of 2016, the local school system arranged and paid for their lodging at BMGC. The superintendent even hosted, at her own choice and personal expense, an appreciation dinner for the school board members and their spouses at McLindon’s restaurant located on the premises of BMGC in January of this year. And the most telling — when Mr. Hayes turned over operations to Lew Ferguson, the school system and he were able to work out an arrangement to return the ACHS golf team to BMGC for this 2017 season.
As to Mr. Hayes’ allegation that the school system’s actions resulted in loss of business to BMGC, it is interesting that after last year’s “misunderstanding,” BMGC conducted a membership survey in the latter part of 2016. The survey, which is posted on BMGC’s own website, cites many reasons members were dissatisfied with BMGC, including an increase in fees. Surprisingly, in the numerous complaints of its own members, there was not a single one citing the ACHS golf team not playing there in 2016 as a factor in their displeasure.
The school system wishes BMGC nothing but success — as we do all our local businesses. We simply deny that we have any liability or responsibility arising to the level of a valid legal claim.
We are confident that everything will become clear and transparent when this case is tried in court. We look forward to that day.
Joel C. Harbinson
Harbinson, Brzykcy & Corbett, LLP
Attorneys at Law
P.O. Box 400
70 East Main Avenue
Taylorsville, NC 28681