Debts still plague Sturgis

Motorcycle event: City creditors frustrated, motoplex negotiates plan for recouping loss

Sturgis North 2012: A biker enters the grounds at the Spallumcheen Motoplex Speedway and Event Park for last summer’s bike rally. This year the event organizers intend to hold their event at Silvery Beach near Chase.

Businesses in Salmon Arm owed money by Sturgis North remain disappointed, which contrasts with the view of the business that hosted the 2012 event.

Although Motoplex Speedway and Event Park – which hosted the 2012 event – initiated a civil claim for close to $400,000 on Nov. 14, 2012 in B.C. Supreme Court in Vernon against Sturgis North Encore Productions Inc., Raymond Michael Roger Sasseville and Joan Hansen, the court action is not indicative of how financial issues are being resolved, says the motoplex manager.

Bob Newcombe, manager of the Spallumcheen facility, told the Observer Monday that motoplex officials have  been meeting with Sturgis over the past three weeks, and have reached agreements. He said the court action still exists, but is not moving forward.

“I’m not saying we have withdrawn it, but we’re coming to terms. Again, I would like it (the event) to be a success… I think it would be good for everybody.”

The lawyer representing the motoplex in the civil action reiterated that view.

“Civil claims and responses are posturing. The fact is, both sides are working together to bring about a successful festival in 2013,” said Kent Burnham.

In December, Sturgis North and the Neskonlith Indian Band announced they had formed a partnership and would be holding the 2013 event Aug. 22 to 25 at Silvery Beach on Little Shuswap Lake near Squilax.

Newcombe said positive changes are being made.

“To be honest, I think Sturgis is a good thing. The changes they’re making are very positive and needed,” he said, adding that the motoplex had no problems with the event except that the pervasive police presence checking vehicles deterred some would-be participants.

“Just because you’re suing somebody doesn’t mean you’re not happy with them. That’s just business,” he added.

In Salmon Arm, however, no resolution is imminent. Brad Handel, owner of Techlectric, one of the businesses owed money from the 2011 motorcycle rally in Salmon Arm and area, says the approximately 15 creditors who met in November with Joan Hansen, who replaced Sasseville as president of Sturgis North, have not received any of their outstanding debts. He said he is owed about $60,000 and a total of just over $300,000 is outstanding locally.

“When she met with us in November, she promised she would set up a trust account,” he said, repeating his comments regarding the meeting that were included in an Observer article at that time. “A portion of all pre-sales would be distributed when the pre-sales were over.”

However, he said Friday, a trust account has not been set up.

“She promised to set up that trust account right away and she never did.”

Now, he says, that plan has been abolished. Hansen wrote to the creditors, stating that if the event is successful, then money would go into a trust account.

“What she promised before, we would get money no matter what, from the pre-sale. Now it’s only if it’s successful.”

He said the group of creditors is holding out little hope of getting paid.

“The feeling is, we’re never going to get paid, so the feeling is to put an end to Sturgis North. If they’re not going to stop, they need to go away. It’s not right.”

Joan Hansen, meanwhile, in an email to the Observer yesterday, stated: “We have a debt recovery plan and have been delayed with the holiday and flu season as well as the complexity of the event. I have already started the process to have a trust set up in Salmon Arm for 2011 debt recovery. I told the Salmon Arm creditors in November, please be patient as these things will take time.”

She said Sturgis has “some great bands waiting to be signed.”

In questions to Hansen, the Observer referred to two civil claims involving Sturgis North – the one initiated by the motoplex, as well as one initiated by Michael Smith – not the Smith who helps run the Summer Stomp motorcycle event – versus Ray Sasseville and Sturgis North Promotions 2011 Inc. In an Aug. 13, 2012 judgment, the court ordered that Sasseville and Sturgis pay $70,000 plus interest and costs to Smith. Smith could not be reached for comment.

The Observer asked Hansen if Sturgis would be able to overcome financial problems, and asked why people should trust they’ll get paid if they do business with Sturgis.

“Good question and I would have to ask the same back to some of the creditors and local small group of troublemakers. In 2011 we had been overcharged in so many areas that our new bookkeeper was appalled. We were also told this from many suppliers in 2011 and then again in 2012, especially since as we (were) able to trim our budget by 75 per cent this past year…,” she wrote, saying a lot of the debt was not properly approved.

She concluded: “Basically we were indebted in some cases as much as five times the original agreements, all of which I have email proof should anyone care for that info. In good faith and hoping for support from our creditors, SN (Sturgis North) has agreed to pay most of the unauthorized debt over time.”

Although Hansen said previously that Ray Sasseville is no longer involved with the event, he is listed in the BC Corporate Registry as a director with Sturgis North Encore Productions Inc. and Sturgis North Entertainment Inc., formerly Sturgis North Promotions Inc.

Hansen stated in her email that “Ray Sasseville still owns the company but is no longer involved in management.”


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