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BALLENGER: Company liquidating some assets

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Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2013 9:18 pm

HARLINGEN — Ballenger Construction Company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December, is attempting to sell some assets while the surety and bonding companies work toward completing numerous construction projects in phases, public records reflect.

Ballenger filed for Chapter 11 Dec. 7 after defaulting on 22 state construction projects, listing liabilities of up to $50 million and more than 3,000 creditors and other parties.

In documents filed in federal bankruptcy court in Corpus Christi, Ballenger noted that it anticipates reorganizing through the liquidation of its assets for the payment of allowed creditor claims through an expedited sale process.

Furthermore, and just before the holidays, Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Veronica Beyer told the Valley Morning Star in a written statement: “We have been in constant communication with Ballenger and the surety companies have had numerous meetings with us on the work that needs to be completed on these projects.”

She added, “The surety companies are on schedule to restart work on these projects in a phased approach starting in January and February. It’s important to note, there will be NO additional cost to taxpayers for work required as part of these contracts.”

Ballenger Construction noted in court documents recently filed that sureties Colonial American Casualty and Surety Company, Fidelity Deposit Company of Maryland (Zurich) and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (Liberty) were in the process of completing the outstanding construction contracts.

The public record shows that the principals of the 75-year-old firm based in Harlingen, Joe C. Ballenger Jr. and Joe C. Ballenger Sr., had attempted to sell assets in order to avoid the bankruptcy action, but those purchases did not materialize.

The firm founded in March 1937 operated throughout the state in the business of constructing highways, streets and roads. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Richard S. Schmidt in Corpus Christi is presiding over the case.

Ballenger Construction’s attorney R. Glen Ayers Jr. with Langley & Banack, Inc., of San Antonio told the Valley Morning Star shortly after the firm filed for protection that the Ballengers were exploring all alternatives in dealing with the financial crisis.

Ballenger had been the state’s prime contractor on projects throughout numerous Texas counties and cities, including projects in Duval, Webb, Brooks, Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Zapata and Willacy. Court records show other projects in Bexar, including the city of San Antonio, Medina, Jim Wells, San Patricio, and Williamson counties.

Beyer said that the project in Cameron County was to construct a raised median a little less than a mile northwest of Business 77 to U.S. Highway 83.

But the reorganization process is complex, and certainly not easy.

Frost Bank alone stated in court records that Ballenger Construction has approximately $28.5 million in loans outstanding and in default.

Ballenger, according to the court record, also has received notice of cancellation of its insurance for non-payment of premiums for the vehicles and equipment.

Frost, noting that its security interest in vehicles, equipment and inventory being abandoned and unattended at various job sites across the state was subject to theft, vandalism, damage and deterioration, moved for relief to allow it to arrange for the collection, transport, and storage of the property to a secure and insured location.

In filing for bankruptcy protection, Ballenger noted that it feared Frost would repossess the equipment.