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Originally published in Castine Patriot, June 7, 2018
Former PNH building headed to auction

by Faith DeAmbrose

In a decades-long fight over the Penobscot Nursing Home, only one thing now remains: the building.

Sold by former owner Wendell Dennison (doing business as Betlins) for $1.7 million in a 2006 private sale, few payments were ever made.

Less than two years after the sale of the business and the building, the state took the business into receivership citing multiple problems, including standard of care and financial issues.

Mortgage payments trickled in for the first two years, confirmed Christie Hayward who now manages the Betlins business interests, but stopped mid-2008. According to court documents, Betlins moved to foreclose on the unpaid mortgage in 2012, but the action was stayed by the court because of it being in receivership.

Since 2007, Betlins has made property tax payments to the town of Penobscot, which, while the nursing home was open, were roughly $24,000 a year, in order to keep the building from being foreclosed by the town for unpaid taxes.

Dennison died in 2014, never seeing a resolution, and the fight continues with daughter Hayward at the helm.

In addition to the principal payments owed, there is also a lien on the property for work done by Robert Gray Plumbing and Heating totaling $9,540 as well as lien fees and the property tax payments Betlins made over the years, raising the total owed upwards of $2 million.

The property will be offered for public sale on Tuesday, June 19, at 10 a.m. at the offices of Lanham Blackwell & Baber, P.A. in Bangor.

The property will be sold as is, where is, subject to outstanding encumbrances of record, real estate taxes and assessments currently due, as stated in a public notice in The Ellsworth American.

According to Hayward, as of press time, no one has stepped forward to show interest in the property, and she believes that after the auction Betlins will likely still own the building.

“We will never get what we are owed,” said Hayward on June 5, adding that while she “wants [the ordeal] to be over with,” she also would like to see the building being used again.

Should the property not sell at auction, she said the next step would be to list it with a commercial real estate agent. “I would like to see something in there that would be good for the community,” she said, and if the right project or business comes along, Hayward said she’d consider a much lower sale price. “My brothers and I ultimately want some good to come out of this,” she said.