Local investor group Shawnee Tubing Real Estate (STRE) went into a court hearing today seeking a ruling that would require newly branded Shawnee Tubing Industries, LLC, (STI) to pay $241,655 in back rent and/or vacate the premises. Local economic development director and STRE Manager Tim Burg said no rent has been paid to STRE (the landlord) at the plant at 41600 Wolverine Road since April.

Local investor group Shawnee Tubing Real Estate (STRE) went into a court hearing today seeking a ruling that would require newly branded Shawnee Tubing Industries, LLC, (STI) to pay $241,655 in back rent and/or vacate the premises. Local economic development director and STRE Manager Tim Burg said no rent has been paid to STRE (the landlord) at the plant at 41600 Wolverine Road since April.

Chairman Leonard Levie of American Industrial Acquisition Corporation (AIAC), owner of STI, claims STRE is evicting STI from its site and threatening the jobs of the 175 employees there.

At a few minutes past 9 a.m. District Judge John Canavan took his seat before a gallery filled with STI employees as attorneys representing STRE and AIAC argued their case.

Though Canavan denied a motion requested by parent company AIAC to intervene, he did side in favor of a continuance.

Canavan said he wanted to give both parties one final attempt to negotiate a lease before he issues a ruling.

“I understand whatever ruling I give out is going to affect 175 families,” he said.

He said he also knew that any immediate ruling would likely have a negative impact on potential negotiations between the two entities.

He scheduled the next hearing for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24.

Burg said while today's court hearing was necessary, it is unfortunate that STRE had to use this method to bring AIAC/STI to the negotiation table.

AIAC Chairman Leonard Levie said, “We are pleased with Judge Canavan's decision to grant a 60-day continuance and we will continue to negotiate to put a longterm lease in place.”

STI will honor the triple-net obligations and normal non-structural maintenance, he said.

“We will pay principal and interest for the note for the period from July 7 to the outside date of the end of the continuance period,” Levie said.

“We are thankful that justice has and will continue to prevail to protect the jobs in the community and we will continue to invest in the company, drive it to profitability and continue to negotiate for a fair lease,” Levie said. “It was a proud day for all of those fighting for jobs in Pottawatomie County.”

Burg said it's important for STI employees and the community to know STRE will continue to present to the owners of STI what they believe is a fair and equitable solution, which allows them to remain in this community, to grow their business and retain and hire employees back to the facility.

Burg has repeatedly stated the investment made by STRE investors almost 16 months ago was put in place to help save jobs at the plant.

“It has never been the intent of STRE to do anything that would harm the employment opportunities of our friends, neighbors and area residents,” he said.

STRE member and Shawnee mayor, Richard Finley said when STRE first got involved in the Wolverine plan (before it became STS, then STI), the alternatives laid out by Wolverine ownership were to sell the plant to a Mexican company or close it at the end of 2016.

“We put together $2 million to keep that from happening,” he said, “and, thus far, a portion of those jobs remain. It is my hope they will continue and that STI will prosper.”

Read previous articles on the issue at news-star.com and watch for updates.