New owners responsible for cutting power
A Texas-based company that acquired several pieces of local businessman Ken Seaton’s former property last year was responsible for the cut-off of power Friday to an old hotel occupied by several families, according to an official with the Sevier County Electric System.
SCES cut power to the set of weekly rental rooms on Pine Mountain Road for several hours Friday because Seaton announced he was set to stop paying the bills Feb. 1, two months after it was acquired in a foreclosure auction, and the new owner failed to take over the bill before that time, SCES official Allen Robbins said.
Seaton lost several pieces of property in the foreclosure in November, including the Grand Hotel, the Family Inns of America and the property where the tenants had been staying. They were acquired by a company listed as DI-TN No. 2, LLC. That company is listed on local deeds and online as being based in Fort Worth, Texas.
Seaton had continued paying the electric bills in December and January but informed the electric system, and apparently the new owners, that he would stop paying electric bills on any of his old property as of Feb. 1 — last Friday, Robbins said.
“It had been in Ken Seaton’s name for many, many years,” he explained. After the foreclosure, Seaton “was no longer the responsible party. Whoever was supposed to be taking it over was supposed to be getting it in their name and he had continued to pay the bill for at least two months.”
Power was cut off at all the properties, including the occupied property along Pine Mountain Road, Friday afternoon. Power to the occupied section was restored that evening after representatives of the new owners contacted SCES and took over the electric bill for the property.
Robbins said as far as he knew that property — listed as the Economy Inn: The Two Story on a letter the manager sent to tenants — was the only one of Seaton’s old properties that was occupied when power was cut off.
While there were some questions about the ownership of the property and even the property address for it on Friday, by Monday Robbins said he had been in contact with representatives of DI-TN No. 2, although he said he didn’t have names for anyone associated with the company. The only phone number for the company obtained by The Mountain Press had a West Tennessee area code and was answered by a man who acknowledged he represented the owners of the property but refused to comment or identify himself.
Robbins said it was unusual to see a former property owner continue paying the utility bill for property as long as Seaton did.
“In this case, he did more than almost anybody else would have done,” Robbins said.
Some of the people living at the hotel mentioned they believed the property had been leased by Seaton to another person or entity. The tenants, including several families with children, indicated they had been paying weekly rent for rooms at the hotel and had been living there for some time.
It was not clear Monday who had been collecting rent on the property; police indicated Friday that there wasn’t a business license for it.
Attempts to reach Seaton Friday and Monday were unsuccessful.