Lawrenceburg regretting $218k restaurant deal - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

FOX19 NOW Investigates

Lawrenceburg regretting $218k restaurant deal

(Source: Jody Barr, FOX19 NOW) (Source: Jody Barr, FOX19 NOW)
(Source: Jody Barr, FOX19 NOW) (Source: Jody Barr, FOX19 NOW)
LAWRENCEBURG, IN (FOX19) - A months-long FOX19 investigation's analyzed more than a decade's worth of taxpayer-backed grants Lawrenceburg handed out all across southeastern Indiana. We found some successful deals and some failures. The city admits, in some of the grants that failed, there was little oversight and weak legal agreements that will keep the city from recouping millions of tax dollars lost to failed projects.

In January, we investigated a $400,000 taxpayer grant given to Greendale's Redevelopment Commission to fund the Highway 50 project. But, Greendale ended up handing that money over to a man named Tim Denning to turn a historic home in Greendale into a restaurant.

The home is known as the Dobell House.

Our investigation found the Dobell House was actually owned by Greendale town attorney, Richard Butler, and Greendale mayor Doug Hedrick. Both men directly benefited from the taxpayer grant. Denning applied for the grant to refurbish the home and after lengthy delays, the restaurant finally opened.

Lawrenceburg Mayor Dennis Carr told FOX19 then, he would fire his city attorney if his attorney was involved in a project like Butler was involved in at the Dobell House. Carr promised the city would never approve another restaurant grant after the Dobell House and another one we're investigating in Lawrenceburg now.

The other failed restaurant project was also led by Tim Denning. This one is located in Lawrenceburg and the project is known as Tressie's Firehouse.

In this deal, Denning and his ex-wife, Tressie, got a $218,000 taxpayer-backed grant to remodel Lawrenceburg's original fire house and turn it into a restaurant. The business never opened and the building's new owner wants to know where the $218,000 was spent.

The new owner claims the grant dollars the Dennings received wasn't spent on site.

Monday at 10, we'll take you through the firehouse to show you what it looked like when the new owner opened the doors and you can decide whether taxpayers got what they paid for.

Plus, we've uncovered backdated invoices Tim Denning admits he fabricated during a settlement negotiation with the city-and we've uncovered allegations of a political vendetta against the highest-elected official in Lawrenceburg. That vendetta-according to Denning-killed the firehouse project.

That's coming Monday night in a two-part investigation on FOX19 at 10 and 10:30.

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