RUTLAND — A second lien has been filed on the Rutland Herald just as the Mitchell family prepares to finalize the sale of the newspaper to two out-of-state buyers.
Royal Group Inc., a security company based in Rutland, has put a lien on the Herald's property for an overdue account going back to February. The lien was filed the day after Herald Editor-in-Chief Rob Mitchell announced that the sale of the Rutland paper and The Times Argus in Barre was likely to take place by the end of this week.
According to Lee Accavallo, president of Royal Group Inc., the overdue account is sizable. Accavallo would not reveal the amount but said a security system like the one installed at the Herald early this year would be about $10,000. Accavallo said a good amount of the balance is still due.
Accavallo said he has advertised in the Herald for years and still does.
"I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars with the Rutland Herald over the years doing business with them," he said. "I would certainly like to see them make me whole after they did business with me."
Mitchell could not be reached for comment Thursday. Phone calls and emails to Christopher Miles, CEO of Alliance Press, which is involved in negotiating the sale, were not returned.
In mid-August, Carlene Kenney, a former ad salesperson at the Herald who claims the paper owes her commissions, also filed a lien on the Herald for about $1,500. Kenney says she still has not been fully paid.
A lien is a legal mechanism that puts a hold on property owned by another person until that person pays off debts owed to the individual making the claim. Typically, owners of property have to meet those payments before a sale can be completed.
"The lien has to be satisfied before a property transfer can happen," Accavallo said.
Accavallo said he made numerous attempts to reach out to the paper's business manager, Deborah Morse, and the owners but did not get a response. Royal Group Inc. was founded in 1935 and has offices in Burlington and Springfield.
Accavallo said he has no hard feelings toward the Mitchell family but would simply like to get paid. "We don't want anything more than that," he said.
In addition to announcing the imminent sale of the papers earlier this week, Mitchell informed staff that Publisher Catherine Nelson had decided to leave and was retiring.
On Monday Seven Days reported that Herald photographer Anthony Edwards was fired for complaining about not being reimbursed for expenses. About a month earlier another Herald employee, sales rep Valerie Broughton, was fired after raising questions about a late paycheck.
Questions about the paper's finances were first raised in a front-page Herald story published in early August. Several days later, the company announced it had entered into an agreement to sell the two papers.