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Several people are linked to purported Las Vegas sovereign citizen – Las Vegas Review

Thomas Benson doesn’t work alone. Here are a few people linked to the purported sovereign citizen:

Nana I Am

When Benson teamed with Nana I Am this year to sue for a foreclosed Las Vegas house, they sought $15 million and claimed Nana was suing on behalf of the former owner.

The case was dismissed – but it wasn’t the first time Nana went to court for a home that wasn’t his.

A mysterious figure, Nana has filed dozens of lawsuits in recent years, often with people who lost their home to lenders. He has sought hundreds of millions, even billions, of dollars and laced his filings with nonsensical claims and pseudo-legal jargon. He writes his name countless ways, including as Nana-Amartey-Baidoobonso-IAM, and is connected to at least five homes in Southern Nevada, according to a Las Vegas Sun report in July. Among them:

He teamed with Miguel and Dinora Barraza this year to sue for a bank-owned house on Sierra Brook Court in the northwest valley. They sought more than $20 million and said they took possession of the house in 1900, 105 years before it was built.

They had teamed up before: The Barrazas lost a house to foreclosure in 2014 but, weeks later, filed papers with Clark County saying they gave it to Nana as a gift in 2009.

Las Vegas police raided the Sierra Brook house in May and arrested the Barrazas and others on squatting charges. Court records indicate the group was ordered to stay out of trouble for one year and to stay away from the home.

Their lawyer, Marilyn Caston, says Nana took a lot of money from her clients and claimed they’d get homes for free. Her clients haven’t talked to him since their arrest, she says, and have “washed their hands of him completely.”

Meanwhile, Benson and Nana have filed similar, strange court papers.

In February, Benson filed in Kansas federal court footprints and thumbprints in blue ink and a copy of the Declaration of Independence that appears to show his name at the bottom, not far from John Hancock’s.

In June, Nana also filed in Kansas federal court footprints and thumbprints in blue ink and a copy of the Declaration, with the name “nana amartey baidoobonso- i am” in the spot where Benson’s name appeared.

Perla Hernandez

Former owners of a Summerlin house said in 2014 that Benson had been “a co-resident” there with Perla Hernandez, who lost the property to foreclosure.

They also said Hernandez showed a “pattern of abuse” of bankruptcy court: She filed for bankruptcy five times between 2010 and 2014, records show.

In Benson’s Kansas filing, he included a copy of a supposed bond for 21 one-ounce silver bullion coins. In May, one Perla Hernandez of Las Vegas filed a nearly identical-looking and -worded document in Kansas federal court.

Kinga Gorna

Benson’s court papers often make little sense but sometimes have at least one thing in common: the notary.

Kinga Gorna’s stamp is included in, among other things, Benson and Nana’s lawsuit; Benson’s lawsuit this year against Las Vegas police over a traffic stop; and the supposed silver-bullion bonds, which say Gorna declared to witness and physically count the coins.

According to the Nevada Secretary of State’s office, Gorna’s current notary commission started in September 2015 and expires in September 2019.

Gorna could not be reached for comment.

David Lopez, head of real estate fraud prosecution at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, said sovereigns often use a notary’s stamp and signature without permission: they’ll cut and paste from a legitimately stamped document and use them “over and over again.”

But it’s not uncommon for notaries to be in cahoots with sovereigns, according to Lopez. And if notaries are “dirty,” his office would “absolutely” prosecute them, he said.

Contact Review-Journal writer Eli Segall at (702) 383-0342. On Twitter at @eli_segall

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Oakwood residents fight to keep homes

When Mary Kay Buford rented a newly built home in Toledo’s central city in 2002 she was signing up for a promise made by the developer — that she could buy that house in 15 years and she would earn $1,000 a year toward the price.

It was a promise that was backed up by the power of federal, state, and local governments.

“It was exciting,” she said.

But last year she got a worrisome letter: Her house was being foreclosed for tax delinquency, and she was being stripped of her “rent-to-own” rights — which come due early next year.

“I was shocked. Now it’s scary. We could end up homeless, with nothing,” Ms. Buford said, standing in front of her two-story Norwood Avenue house with a porch and picket fence.

Ms. Buford and other women who rent homes in the Oakwood Homes I II project, including Samonia Smith and Lakesha Williams, aided by Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, have sued to intervene in the tax foreclosure planned for 43 homes left standing and still occupied from the 80-home project.

From left, Lakesha Williams, Dawn Autry, Samonia Smith, and Mary Buford are among plaintiffs suing to buy the homes they have rented for up to 15 years. The homes were rent-to-own but the project went bankrupt.



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They’re hoping to be able to acquire their dwellings for little or nothing because of the promise that was made, the expenses they’ve undertaken, the conditions of the homes, and the failure of a state agency to monitor the project for problems.

The original developer, the now-defunct nonprofit Toledo Community Development Corp., built the development with mortgage financing of about $9.3 million, according to the two suits filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, with federal tax credits to lower the risk.

The project has fallen behind in paying its bills with the result that some of the houses have been demolished and others are in poor repair.

The original local partner, Toledo Community Development Corp., also known as Central City Neighborhood Community Development Corp., was once supported by the city with as much as $86,825 annual subsidy of taxpayer money.

The financial partner, National Equity Fund, an affiliate of the Local Initiatives Support Corp., or LISC, has been subsidizing the operating deficit — about $115,000 in 2015 — but has not been paying the property taxes. Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz has filed two tax foreclosure lawsuits because the homes are behind in property taxes by about $230,000.

Ms. Buford, Ms. Smith, and Ms. Williams are seeking through their intervention in one of the cases to force the project to live up to the promise that was made — that they could get credit to buy their homes after the 15th year.

Whether their legal intervention will be accepted is up to Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Lawyer contentions

Lawyers for Mr. Kapszukiewicz say the tenants don’t have any standing to block the foreclosure suit. In the first case, which is virtually identical, and which also has tenants suing to stop the sale, Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros denied a motion to intervene.

George Thomas, a lawyer representing the tenants, said the tenants’ rights are spelled out in a covenant. Even though one section of the covenant says the tenants’ rights terminate when foreclosure is filed, Mr. Thomas noted that the covenant also says the tenancy continues after foreclosure. He contends their right of first refusal to buy the homes is included in their tenancy rights.



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Mr. Kapszukiewicz said he sympathizes with the tenants and said the foreclosure suit is part of a plan aimed at getting the houses out of financial limbo and into the hands of a responsible community development corporation that can manage the rental properties and sell them.

The plan was devised by the city of Toledo Department of Neighborhoods; the Lucas County Land Bank, which Mr. Kapszukiewicz chairs, and NeighborWorks, a local nonprofit community development corporation. Toledo City Council voted unanimously June 7 to approve the foreclosure plan, and the measure was signed by Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson.

The plan is to have the treasurer foreclose on the homes, turn them over to the Lucas County Land Bank to wipe the deeds clean of liens, such as mortgages — including $225,000 from the city of Toledo — and then transfer them, at a price of $300 each, to NeighborWorks, also known as Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. of Toledo.

NeighborWorks would then rent them and try to sell them for about $20,000 each, according to NeighborWorks Executive Director Bill Farnsel.

“Our hope in this endeavor is that there are neighborhood residents that want to buy and are qualified that we can transfer ownership to, and in a two to three-year period we end up with just a handful of homes that residents don’t want to buy,” Mr. Farnsel said.

Ms. Buford said the improvements she’s made include new carpeting downstairs, paint, and a repaired kitchen sink. She said the dishwasher is broken and there’s a sewer smell from the basement drain.

“A lot of residents are scared to speak up for themselves. It’s only a few of us speaking up for what we believe in and that’s buying our houses and owning our houses,” Ms. Buford said. “Our question was, if you’re going to give them to [NeighborWorks] why don’t you give them to us?”

Conspiracy claim

Ms. Buford, Ms. Smith, and Ms. Williams are named in the complaint filed by ABLE, a federally funded legal aid agency that provides free representation in civil cases to low-income people. Complaints against the Oakwood Homes I and II foreclosure have also been filed by residents Dawn Autry, Monica Ham, Latoya Pearson, Latoya Broughton, Terri Pope, Darcell Jordan, Ronnita Holyfield, Polly Petoskey, and Charles and Tay Lee.

Ms. Autry’s pro se complaint accused local officials of conspiring to deprive them of their ownership rights.

“It reeks of conspiracy and fraud,” said the complaint brought by Ms. Autry.

Mr. Farnsel said that the $20,000 cost to resell the homes was necessary revenue to keep up the homes while they are sold, which will take several years.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz said NeighborWorks is “in the best position to deliver on the promise that was made.” As a community development corporation, NeighborWorks can lend mortgage funds to people who can’t get conventional loans.

Mr. Farnsel said he didn’t know enough about the failure of Oakwood Homes I and II to explain why it happened.

“In general, single family rental homes are kind of a hard thing to manage. If you don’t stay on top of rent collections, stay on top of evictions, repairs and replacements, it’s easy for a project like that to get out of control,” Mr. Farnsel said. “If you’re not diligent things can get out of control quickly.”

Failed projects

Oakwood Homes I and II is one of several tax credit projects that failed.

A Blade investigation in 2012 found that of Toledo’s 800 low-income tax credit homes, more than 100 were boarded up, gutted, or demolished. The investigation found that the Ohio Housing Finance Agency was not inspecting the units as required for the federal tax credits.

The Oakwood suit accuses the Ohio Housing Finance Agency of failing to do its job of inspecting the rental units regularly. OHFA was supposed to notify the Internal Revenue Service if a unit fell out of compliance so that the IRS could “recapture” the tax credits that had been awarded.

According to the suit, for the five years preceding February, 2013, “OHFA failed to [notify] the IRS to document compliance related to any Oakwood Homes rental unit.”

The women say they deserve some credit for making their own repairs, and for any deterioration that has not been maintained by the developer.

Recent prices of homes sold in the Norwood and Oakwood area range from as little as $1 to as much as $40,000.

Ms. Smith said the house she’s been in since 2013 has a lot of problems, including a slow leak in her ceiling, and broken kitchen drawers.

Ms. Smith said she survives on Social Security disability checks, and she shares the house with two children and four grandchildren.

She went to the informational meetings that NeighborWorks organized, and found that some of the other tenants — who she said are nearly all women — were scared.

“We are mostly women. We are trying to stay and build our community,” Ms. Smith said.

Contact Tom Troy: or 419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

Mary Kay Buford

,Lakesha Williams

,Samonia Smith

,Advocates for Basic Legal Equality

,Oakwood Homes

,lucas county common pleas court

,Toledo Community Development Corp.

,Wade Kapszukiewicz

,NeighborWorks Toledo Region

,toledo department of neighborhoods

,Tom Troy

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Huntington Beach woman arrested for possible link to ‘foreclosure rescue’ scam

A Huntington Beach woman was arrested Wednesday in connection with a scheme where money was taken to fraudulently halt home foreclosures.

Police said that 55-year-old Brandy Taylor was arrested at her Huntington Beach home after a months-long investigation, according to a statement released Thursday morning.

In January, Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s officials contacted Huntington Beach police investigators regarding a “Foreclosure Rescue” scam that had victims in Santa Barbara County, Alameda County and Orange County.

“For a monthly fee, the company was suspected of offering to stop the foreclosure process through the use of fraudulent deeds of trust,” according to the statement.

The company suspected in the deceptive activity was known as Carrington Investments/The Wellington Group operating out of Huntington Beach.

The counties issued arrest warrants in Huntington Beach for Taylor on suspicion of filing forged or false documents, said Huntington Beach police Officer Jennifer Marlatt.

On Wednesday, the Huntington Beach Police Department Crime Task Force Unit conducted surveillance at Taylor’s home. Once detectives confirmed she was in the home, they arrested her.

She was booked into jail and was being held in lieu of $1.36 million bail.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7865 or

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Middleboro residents help WWII vet settle outstanding water bill

MIDDLEBORO — A 91-year-old veteran is thankful to his community for raising funds to pay his $1,440.28 water bill that resulted in a town lien being placed on his property.

Sherwin Grannum, a WWII veteran who was involved in the D day invasion on Omaha Beach, is hearing impaired and did not realize his toilet was malfunctioning and kept running, which ran up his water bill. 

The matter was brought before selectmen on Nov. 14 by Veteran’s Agent Paul Provencher who asked if the bill could be waived. 

Selectmen Chairman Diane Stewart told Provencher the bill could not be waived because the policy of the water department is to only waive bills when the error is caused by the department. 

Selectmen voted unanimously on Nov. 14 to ask the Treasurer/Collector to remove any late fees and work out a payment plan with Grannum. 

Stewart said the bill would have to be paid within 90 days to remove the lien on Grannum’s property and, if it was not paid, the town could move to foreclose on the property. To avoid a foreclosure they could ask the Treasurer/Collector not to move forward on the lien. 

The matter took a dramatic turn this week when selectmen John Knowlton announced that following the Nov. 14 meeting, he and his wife Jeanine ”thought there is more that could be done” and decided to set up a “” page to pay Grannum’s water/sewer bill. 

“Within four hours the funds were raised” said Knowlton, “in a heartwarming show of support and gratitude from this community for the service Mr. Grannum has given his country.”  

“My wife and I were not surprised by the response,” Knowlton said in a Nov. 22 email to the Enterprise, noting there were 37 donations “most between $20 and $40, with a few $100 donations mixed in.” 

“This is an example of why our town is a fantastic place to live” said Knowlton who stood up and walked away from the selectmen’s table to the back of the room where Grannum was sitting and handed him the check for $1,440.28. 

Grannum, who declined to speak, then stood with Provencher before the speaker’s podium 

Provencher issued a statement from Grannum, who was standing by his side, saying “he (Grannum) would like to say thank you to John and his wife Jeanine for setting it up (the gofundme page) and the community as a whole for coming forward for him.” 

Provencher in a Nov. 21 email to the Enterprise said Grannum “learned earlier in the day what a gofundme thing was all about and he was aware that the money had been raised. He did not know that a check was being given to him” at Monday’s selectmen’s meeting. 

Knowlton said the Council on Aging has a fund available “for this kind of event” to help fund such things as heating, food, and medicine and urged residents to contact the COA if they need assistance or know of someone who needs help.

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Common Council reduces prices on two foreclosure properties – Glens Falls Post

Whenever Maury Thompson posts new content, you’ll get an email delivered to your inbox with a link.

Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items.

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Lost your home to foreclosure? Colorado might…

Coloradans who lost their homes to foreclosure since 2012 can now check with the Great Colorado Payback to see if they are due any money from the auction of property they once owned.

For the first time, public trustees across the state are turning over unclaimed excess funds from foreclosure auctions to the state treasurer, who maintains millions of dollars in property – cash, stocks, even jewelry – for owners who have not been located. Informally it’s known as the Great Colorado Payback.

The foreclosure sales proceeds are funds that exceed what a bank was owed when the home was seized and later sold at public auction. Known as “overbid” or “excess” funds, it’s what is left after all liens and other claims are paid following the auction.

Denver Clerk Debra Johnson’s office – she is also Denver’s public trustee – is expected to hand over more than $1 million in unclaimed overbid funds that belong to about 50 people, said Patty White, director of the state’s unclaimed property fund.

“We’re anticipating some pretty substantial lists from the trustees,” White said. “I think it’s really worthwhile that we can get this money back to the rightful owners.”

County public trustees oversee the foreclosure process and publish the names – but not the amounts – of people owed money from the auctions. Funds can be claimed at the trustee’s office, which auctions the property up until the transfer to the state treasurer.

Legislators this year changed the law that had allowed public trustees in each county to hold onto the overbid funds for five years before turning them over to the state treasurer’s unclaimed property fund. Trustees must now turn over unclaimed funds six months after all claims have been processed, though officials say it will happen just twice yearly to ensure all the money is properly accounted.

The previous five-year rule was passed only four years ago, so no overbid funds have yet been transferred from trustees to the Great Colorado Payback until now, the treasurer’s office said.

The new law, which Johnson championed, also limits what consumers can be charged by “found-money” companies that reunite funds with their rightful owners. Consumers cannot be charged any fee in the first two years the money is with the state treasurer. Then the cap is 20 percent, rising to 30 percent after the third year.

Counties used to be able to simply keep the money no matter how much a homeowner might have been owed as long as it was unclaimed. Things changed after The Denver Post disclosed how trustees often put little effort into finding the rightful owners, typically only mailing notices to a homeowner’s last address – the one they lost to foreclosure.

Now the funds remain held by the state treasurer in perpetuity, so descendants of the rightful owner can even claim the money years from now.

Trustees now spend more time looking for the owners and have reunited them at a time it’s most needed. Last December, for instance, Johnson’s office returned $17,000 to a family whose father hadn’t been able to work in five years.

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Animated charmer ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ is on Blu-ray, DVD

One of many stunning images in the stop-motion animated charmer Kubo and the Two Strings, now on DVD and Blu-ray. (Deseret Photo)

An animated feature that slipped in and out of theaters under the radar leads these movies that are new to Blu-ray and DVD this week.

“Kubo and the Two Strings” (Universal, 2016, PG, introduction, audio commentary, featurettes). A one-eyed boy named Kubo (voiced by young Art Parkinson) lives with his sickly mother in ancient Japan, where he uses complex origami to illustrate seemingly tall tales that he relates to the locals. In fact, the stories he spins are about his own late father.

One evening, when he disobeys his mother and stays out after dark, Kubo finds himself in danger, so his mom summons the strength to rescue him by using her magic, which sends Kubo off on a quest to find his father’s enchanted armor. As he sets out on this danger-filled adventure, Kubo is joined by a little wooden monkey that has come to life (Charlize Theron) and a samurai cursed with a beetle-like body (Matthew McConaughey).

Beautifully rendered stop-motion animation and a unique inventiveness inform this fanciful fable by first-time director Travis Knight, a veteran producer with the Laika studio (“Coraline,” “ParaNorman,” “The Boxtrolls”). Other voice actors include Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei and Brenda Vaccaro.

“Chicken People” (Sony, 2016, not rated/probable G). This funny but respectful and winning documentary examines the lives of people who raise show chickens. Yes, you read that right. Like dog shows, there are poultry shows, and breeders are very much their own lot, as are those who judge the birds. It’s a hoot. Or to be more apt, it’s a crow.

“Hell or High Water” (Lionsgate, 2016; R for violence, language, sex; featurettes). Divorced father Toby (Chris Pine) and his unstable, ex-con brother Tanner (Ben Foster) become desperate as their family’s Texas ranch nears foreclosure, so they begin robbing branches of the same bank that holds the title to their property. But as Tanner’s behavior becomes more erratic, and with a tenacious Texas ranger (Jeff Bridges) on their trail, things look bleak. This is a familiar crime melodrama lifted by solid performances.

“The Childhood of a Leader” (IFC, 2016, not rated/probable R for violence). An allegory for the rise of fascism, this fable relates the childhood of a boy in 1918 France, where his American diplomat father is involved in negotiating the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I. The boy learns to manipulate his parents and begins a path that will lead him to becoming a fascist dictator. Robert Pattinson plays two supporting roles.

“War Dogs” (Warner, 2016, R for language and drugs, featurettes). During the Iraq War, two twenty-something stoners (Jonah Hill, Miles Teller) stumble onto a little-known government initiative that allows them to bid on government contracts, which eventually leads to their rolling in dough. But when they take on a $300 million deal with the Afghan military, they are soon in way over their heads. This sleazy satire is based on a true story. Bradley Cooper and Kevin Pollak are among the co-stars.

“The Land” (IFC, 2016; R for language, drugs, violence, nudity; featurette, trailer). A motley crew of teens ditch school to practice on their skateboards, hoping those skills will get them out of the dregs of Cleveland’s inner city culture. But they also steal cars, and eventually, unwisely, cross a drug dealer, which leads to more trouble than they bargained for.

Chris Hicks is the author of “Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings.” He also writes at and can be contacted at

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FCC Denies MBA’s Request For TCPA Carve-Out For Mortgage Servicers

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has denied a request from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) to exempt mortgage servicers from the “express consent” provision of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which requires servicers to get consent from borrowers before robo-calling their mobile phones.

The MBA submitted the request in June in response to a proposal approved by Congress earlier this year allowing servicers to robo-call borrowers cell phones without the required consent, provided they are collecting on government-backed loans.

The government’s rationale for this exception – which was granted by way of an amendment to the TCPA – is that it is important for mortgage servicers to be able to contact borrowers who are delinquent on their mortgages as early as possible, so that they can get loss mitigation efforts into place and prevent borrowers from heading into foreclosure.

One of the classic problems with borrowers in default is that they often avoid having contact with their mortgage servicer. This is often ultimately to the borrower’s detriment, as the servicer is in the best position to assist the borrower and keep them from sinking deeper into financial trouble.

In its request, the MBA argued that the logic that is used for exempting collectors from the “express consent” provision for government-backed loans should apply to all mortgages, not just the ones that are government-backed.

“Outbound residential mortgage servicing calls are critical to ensure borrowers understand available options to avoid foreclosure and its financially damaging repercussions,” the MBA’s petition states. “Given their importance and benefit to borrowers, these communications are mandated by multiple federal and state laws, regulations and requirements. However, residential mortgage servicers face uncapped statutory penalties for each call attempt made pursuant to these requirements.”

In the petition, the MBA points out that other federal regulators, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Federal Housing Administration and Treasury Department have mandated protocols for reaching out to borrowers through outbound communications when a homeowner is delinquent. In addition, most states have enacted similar requirements.

“This exemption will confirm that complying with borrower outreach requirements will not subject mortgage servicers to liability under the TCPA and will ensure that calls to borrowers are treated fairly under the TCPA, regardless of who may own or insure the mortgage at any given time,” the petition states. “The TCPA was not intended to obstruct effective communications between mortgage servicers and their borrowers.”

The FCC, however, denied the request this past week on the grounds that the MBA failed to adequately show why servicers “should be able to make or send non-time-sensitive robo-calls, including robo-texts, to consumers without first obtaining consumer consent.”

The FHFA has also has asked the FCC to carve out an exemption for the mortgage industry.

A recent enforcement advisory indicates that the FCC will soon be cracking down on “unwanted robo-texts.”

The TCPA prohibits prerecorded calls as well as auto-dialers that connect live callers to borrowers.

Mortgage servicers have been struggling with TCPA compliance, which is particularly tricky because some parts of the law are vague and open to interpretation. Regardless, violations can add up quickly, as fines are calculated on a per-incident basis. In July, Wells Fargo Bank paid $16.3 million to settle a class action lawsuit alleging it illegally used an auto-dialer to call mortgage borrowers’ mobile phones without their consent.

In that suit, Markos v. Well Fargo Bank NA, which was originally filed on April 14, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled that Wells Fargo must pay each affected borrower $25 to $75. That’s after deductions are made for cost of notice, claims administration, and court-awarded attorneys’ fees and costs.

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Property taxes: Know the lingo

Exemption: A tax break. The most common, the homestead exemption, varies from county to county. In Gwinnett, for example, the standard county homestead exemption is $10,000; that amount is deducted from the assessed value for the purposes of calculating certain county taxes.

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Davidson Co. Rescue Squad Headquarters Dangerously Close to Foreclosure

DAVIDSON COUNTY — The Davidson County Rescue Squad that is used to
save members of the community is now in need of its own rescuing.

The squad headquarters is in Lexington and is dangerously close to foreclosure.

The 60 members hope to raise over $200,000 by the middle of January
in order to repay their loans.

If they do not meet their goal, the property will be sold through
public auction.

Reggie Lookabill, the board president of the Davidson County Rescue
Squad, said, “Worst case scenario, if we lost this building, we
would disperse the equipment and the property out to our other
stations, and pick up and go from there.”

The station closure could cause an increase in response time for
Lexington residents.

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