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Downtown Elks building fiasco coming to an end

Granville "Beaver" Brinkman

A lawsuit spanning four years is about to come to an end. Officials confirmed that a settlement has been reached regarding the historic Dickinson Elks Building.

Dickinson City Administrator Shawn Kessel said Wednesday that Elks Building owner Granville "Beaver" Brinkman had told him an agreement between him, Bismarck-based High Ball Construction and Dickinson's Wells Fargo has been reached. Kessel said he had no further information on the matter and he has yet to discuss it with Brinkman.

"He told me in a voicemail he is subject to a confidentiality agreement that the court has imposed. I haven't seen that document, but that's what he told me in a voicemail," Kessel said. "I'm not sure how much will come out."

Shawn Grinolds, an attorney representing High Ball, confirmed that the settlement was reached out of court was confidential.

"I cannot disclose anything in that regard," he said. "The only thing I can say is that all claims regarding the damage to the Wells Fargo bank has been settled."

Kessel said Brinkman's organization will be reimbursed with an undisclosed sum, which will be applied to the completion of the building.

Brinkman purchased the Elks Building in 2005 to restore it. Construction on the building was interrupted when a fire originating in the basement Oct. 15, 2007, broke out. The Dickinson Fire Department claimed smoldering slag from a High Ball cutting torch caused the building to be set ablaze accidentally after employees left for the day. Brinkman's company, New Care Construction in Tacoma, Wash., brought suit against High Ball last year. Wells Fargo later filed a lawsuit against High Ball and New Care.

Brinkman also has made five requests to the city for extensions to renovate the building. After failing to pay for a building permit, the Dickinson City Commission decided to issue a letter of intent to deny him a sixth extension July 11.

The city has the option to seek litigation against Brinkman to obtain the building, Kessel said. The city can also take no action or wait to see if the building is sold by Brinkman.

"That building has garnered a great deal of interest by other entities," he said. "There are other companies that are interested in owning that building, so, by not doing anything and allowing the market to take its course, it may mean that Mr. Brinkman sells to what he considers the best bidder and then they complete the building."

Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson previously told The Dickinson Press that the Elks Building has accumulated approximately $1.5 million in mortgages and more than $700,000 in liens. He added it would not be in the best interest of the city to file a lawsuit to reclaim the building.

"Why would we litigate to get the building back with a large mortgage against it and several construction liens?" he said. "I think it is best to wait and see how that plays out right now."

Johnson said the city has lost tax revenue on the building and the use of "a completed building that is there functioning and benefiting the citizens of the community," he said.

Johnson said he can't wait to see the building completed, adding it will be a "great" addition to the town. "The fact that there is a reported settlement is a favorable development in this whole project," Johnson said.

Brinkman did not return several calls made by The Dickinson Press this week. Wells Fargo attorney David Schweigert and Paul Ebeltoft, who represented Dickinson Elks Building and New Care companies, also did not return several calls made during the week.