Editorial: Misdirected anger

Don’t blame Ken Seaton for power cutoff incident last Friday
Feb. 06, 2013 @ 12:20 AM

Ken Seaton, the Pigeon Forge businessman and hotelier, has had a rough two or three years, mostly due to his own actions. So when electric power was cut off last Friday to a property he once owned, the tenants naturally targeted Seaton as the culprit.

Turns out, he was not the villain. In fact he had been quite generous in his attitude toward the property even after it changed hands and he no longer owned it. It was the current owner of what’s called Economy Inn: The Two Story who appears to be responsible for power being cut off on one of the coldest days of the year. That’s according to Allen Robbins, a top official with Sevier County Electric System.

To his credit, Seaton actually paid the power bill for two months after the property changed hands, while alerting the new owner and others that effective Feb. 1 he would no longer be responsible for the electric bill. That seems more than reasonable. The property was the only one of Seaton’s former hotels that was still occupied. SCES cut power to the weekly rental rooms on Pine Mountain Road for several hours Friday because the new owner failed to take over the bill before that time, Robbins said.

Seaton can be blamed for many unfortunate things during his professional career, but this much is true: He lost several pieces of property in a 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 properties as of Feb. 1 — last Friday, Robbins said. “It had been in Ken Seaton’s name for many, many years,” he said. 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 (Seaton) had continued to pay the bill for at least two months,” Robbins said.

Say what you want about Ken Seaton, and many people have, but in this instance he is blameless. He paid a power bill for two months after it was no longer his responsibility, and alerted the new owners and the utility when he would stop doing it.

He did what was right. If there is anger to be directed by tenants and others over what happened last Friday, it would be misdirected if aimed at Mr. Seaton.