- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) - A judge has approved a plan that requires the Craighead County Fair Association to liquidate remaining properties at old and new fairgrounds.

The fair association filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year after construction of the new fairgrounds left it in debt. Focus Bank is owed more than $6.2 million by the fair association, and its lawyers drafted a plan in March that would force the association to sell properties to pay back the bank and several contractors, The Jonesboro Sun (http://bit.ly/1K7wBNz ) reported.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Phyllis M. Jones approved Focus Bank’s liquidation plan on Thursday, and the fair association’s bankruptcy attorney, James Dowden, said that the ruling won’t be appealed.

“We were unable to generate a feasible plan in the time given, so Focus Bank filed their own plan,” Dowden said.

The ruling leaves the future of the NEA District Fair uncertain, but association president Michael Cureton assures that it likely will still continue in September.

“That’s my opinion unless someone tells me different,” Cureton said. “Now, next year may be little bit more complicated, but I believe we will have things worked out by then.”

According to the plan, the new fairgrounds can be listed with a real estate agent for 150 days once the bankruptcy proceedings have concluded, but that it must go to public auction “as expeditiously as is reasonable” if the agent can’t find a buyer.

Focus Bank’s attorney, Judy Simmons Henry, expects properties at both fairgrounds to be liquidated by fall 2016 at the latest.

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Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com

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