Posts tagged ‘Washington County’

Civil War filmmaker still owes $263K on county loan


Director Ron Maxwell — who owes Washington County $263,000 on an overdue loan — said Thursday he’s “absolutely” confident he still can make the last movie in a Civil War trilogy.


Director Ron Maxwell (By Ric Dugan/Hagerstown Journal Mail)

“As long as I’m walking around and breathing, there’s hope,” Maxwell said, referring to “The Last Full Measure.”

Maxwell made “Gettysburg,” which came out in 1993, and “Gods and Generals,” which was released in 2003 and filmed largely in the Tri-State area.

In 2002, Washington County gave Maxwell a $300,000 loan to start working on “The Last Full Measure” by 2005 and produce at least half of it in Washington County.

Otherwise, he had to repay the money, plus 4.5 percent annual interest, by 2010.

“It’s being paid over a number of years and it continues to be paid, and it will be paid. That’s … all I can tell you,” Maxwell said during a brief interview as he left a Maryland International Film Festival VIP reception in Hagerstown on Thursday.

But Maxwell’s last payment was $19,107 on June 2, 2008, according to county officials. That leaves his debt at $181,786 on the principal and $263,041 total, including interest.

When The Herald-Mail wrote about Maxwell’s loan debt in 2007, County Attorney John M. Martirano said the county was considering a lawsuit to collect the balance.

Assistant County Attorney Andrew F. Wilkinson said in August that a lawsuit was still possible.

For now, however, the county continues to talk to Maxwell and his Washington, D.C., attorney, Richard J. Leighton, Wilkinson said Friday. He said he and Leighton are scheduled to confer again in mid-November.

Leighton couldn’t be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Maxwell said he met privately with the Washington County Board of Commissioners within the last six months “and everybody understands that it’s gonna be solved.”

But none of the four commissioners contacted Friday was satisfied with Maxwell’s progress in paying his debt.

“He’s not on track, and he owes Washington County taxpayers …,” said Terry Baker, the president of the commissioners. “He hasn’t lived up to his obligation.”

Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham said loans in the film industry are risky. She said the county now needs to focus on getting repaid.

When he met with the commissioners, Maxwell suggested alternatives to repaying the loan, according to Commissioner William B. McKinley. One was a local film festival, which would attract people to Washington County and boost hotel-motel tax revenue.

McKinley said that wasn’t reasonable.

“We need the money back,” he said.

“I think we’re getting to the point where negotiations are ending” and the matter will go to court, Commissioner Jeff Cline said.

Cline questioned the image of Maxwell’s red-carpet entrance at The Maryland Theatre on Thursday evening.

“He arrived in a white limo to a town he owed $300,000 to, and he was treated like a hero,” Cline said, wondering why Maxwell couldn’t have at least made small payments in the last three years.

Commissioner John F. Barr couldn’t be reached for comment on Friday.

Maxwell pledges payback

Maxwell was in Washington County on Thursday for the film festival kickoff and on Friday for a director’s-cut screening of “Gods and Generals.”

He said it took 15 years to make “Gettysburg,” the first film in the trilogy, and 10 years to make “Gods and Generals,” the second part, which was a “prequel” to “Gettysburg.”

Eight years have passed since he started trying to make “The Last Full Measure,” so “if we get it done within the next two years, we’ll be on schedule …,” he said with a laugh.

“One thing you can put in print: I will never turn my back on this county,” Maxwell said.

Jeff Shaara wrote “The Last Full Measure,” a book Maxwell has tried to turn into a movie.

Hagerstown attorney D. Bruce Poole, who represents Shaara, said Shaara and Maxwell haven’t spoken in years about making a “The Last Full Measure” movie. But Shaara “is confident that under the right circumstances,” the movie could be made and would be successful, Poole said.

Maxwell and Shaara each own 50 percent of the movie rights, according to Poole.

The loan agreement called for Maxwell to make quarterly payments to the county. However, records show he made one payment in 2006, four in 2007 and one in 2008.

The loan for “The Last Full Measure” followed an earlier loan Maxwell’s film company secured in 1997 to make “Gods and Generals.” Washington County and the city of Hagerstown backed $300,000 of the loan, The Herald-Mail reported at the time.

Maxwell’s film company repaid that loan.

“Gods and Generals” cost about $56 million to make and had a domestic gross of about $13 million, according to the movie-industry website

A director’s cut DVD of nearly six hours, twice the length of the theater version, was more popular.

Maryland seeks to buy 14 acres of land near South Mountain Civil War battlefield for $55,600

Civil War Cannons in Maryland

MIDDLETOWN, Md. (AP) — A Department of Natural Resources official says the state of Maryland is seeking to buy some land near the South Mountain Civil War battlefield.

John Braskey told The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown newspaper on Tuesday that the two parcels near Middletown total 14.6 acres. One is a 9.1-acre parcel atop South Mountain that saw action during the battle. The smaller piece has scenic value.

The land belongs to the Central Maryland Heritage League. The group says the state has offered a fair price of about $55,600.

The deal would require approval by the state Board of Public Works.

South Mountain is Maryland’s only state-run Civil War battlefield. Federal and Confederate forces clashed there on Sept. 14, 1862, three days before the Battle of Antietam.

State considering land near South Mountain State Battlefield


6:21 PM EDT, August 16, 2011

The state has offered to buy land near South Mountain State Battlefield.

The parcels are the 9.1-acre Wise South Field and the 5.5-acre Mahaffey Woods, said John Braskey, the Western Maryland regional administrator for land acquisition and planning for the state Department of Natural Resources.

The land belongs to the Central Maryland Heritage League, a nonprofit group based in Middletown, Md.

Executive Director Bill Wilson said the league is interested in selling the parcels to the state. He said the state offered to pay $55,575, a price he called “eminently fair.”

He said the league is awaiting further instructions from the state on how the contract will be drawn up.

The final agreement will be sent to the state Board of Public Works for its approval.

South Mountain State Park runs along the border of Frederick and Washington counties.

The Department of Natural Resources’ website says the Civil War battle fought there on Sept. 14, 1862, was the first in Maryland and a turning point in the war.

“The Union victories at South Mountain and Antietam (fought three days later) led President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation,” the DNR’s website says.

Wilson said the Wise property, at the top of South Mountain, encompasses land around Reno Monument and is battlefield land.

The Mahaffey property is about a quarter mile away on Reno Monument Road and is part of the viewshed around the battlefield.

Both parcels have easements that don’t allow development.

Wilson said the Central Maryland Heritage League and the state have talked about a possible sale for at least five years.

The idea resurfaced recently. A July 21 letter from the Department of Natural Resources to Terry Baker, the president of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, says there is a “potential real estate acquisition” in Washington County.

The DNR contacted Washington County because the properties “straddle the county line,” the letter says.

%d bloggers like this: