New Owners Jump Into Wild River Country With Big Plans

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Mar. 4, 2013 12:00 am  

“We want to come in and be known as the new Wild River Country,” said Chris Shillcutt, vice president of operations at the water park. (Photo by Mark Friedman)

Hall, the previous owner, disagreed and said he was happy with the management. “I was fine with Reve Management,” Hall said last week. “I dispute the comment that they were bad managers.”

Shillcutt said it appeared that profits weren’t reinvested in the park. “It seemed like to me they were treading water,” he said.

Financial Trouble

When Halcyon bought the park in 1999, Hall pledged $1 million in capital improvements during the next 18 months. Hall also said that he would “put the action back in attraction.”

But within a few years, financial troubles had hit the park. One of its low points came in January 2005, when Wild River became the first business in Arkansas to be shut down by the state Department of Finance & Administration for nonpayment of sales taxes. Wild River owed the state $170,000 in sales taxes it had collected from customers but didn’t hand over to the state between July and September 2004.

Wild River reopened two weeks after it was closed by the state.

“We intend to make sure all our bills are paid,” Hall told Arkansas Business in 2005. “We’ve had a few bumps. … I think everybody should settle down and relax.”

The bills weren’t paid, however, and in November 2005, Halcyon Attractions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization and listed $4.3 million in debts and $3.96 million in assets.

The biggest creditor was Community Bank of Cabot, which is now Centennial Bank. It was owed $3.4 million. Wild River’s bankruptcy filing halted Community Bank’s foreclosure against the park.

It looked like the 2006 season was showing signs of life for Wild River. Bankruptcy filings showed the park had revenue of $2.46 million between May and August 2006 and a net income of $737,299.

In October 2006, Wild River received a $1.9 million loan from Merk Mortgages Inc. of Canada, led by Slattery, the Canadian businessman who is now a co-owner of the park. Halcyon paid Community Bank $400,000, which reduced its financial exposure with Halcyon to $2.6 million in the form of a new three-year mortgage. Hall also agreed to personally guarantee new funding agreements.

But the good times didn’t last long. By 2008, collection lawsuits started rolling in again.



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