Delacroix marina owner celebrates birthday worrying about bankruptcy


by Bill Capo / Action Report

Posted on January 14, 2011 at 6:36 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 14 at 8:03 PM

DELACROIX, La. -- Just two boats launched from Sweetwater Marina in Delacroix on Friday. Only two of the four rooms at the lodge were rented. Sweetwater's owner is struggling to pay bills.

"I'm worried beyond belief, because this is everything I've worked hard for these 42 years, and today is my birthday," said Captain Jack Payne. "And on my birthday I'm still worried to death that everything I've worked, lived and worked hard for is going to fail because of something I didn't do."

Payne opened Sweetwater Marina in April, just days before the oil spill ruined the fishing season, and now he is barely hanging on.

But his application to Ken Feinberg's Gulf Coast Claims Fund was denied.

"I can't believe it at all."

Just after Christmas, he had to lay off two employees and reduce the hours others work.

"We gone from six days a week to just to the weekends now," said employee Ronnie Richardson, who had come to the marina just to see if things might be improving.

The first Action Report last month got attention. A member of the Feinberg law firm called Payne, and that seemed like the best news, at least at first.

"Two days after me and you spoke, Mr. Capo, a fella called me that was the right hand man for Mr. Steinberg, told me that they were reviewing everything," Payne said. "He also read my letter that I put in there. ... He was very positive."

But then he called back and told Jack to file an application for an interim claim that could take 30 to 90 days to process.

So when Feinberg was in Louisiana this week, I gave him copies of the e-mail from Sweetwater Marina and asked him to take a look at this case on an emergency basis.

"Absolutely, I'll take a look at these claims right away," Feinberg said.

"I haven't heard a peep, nothing," Payne said three days later. "No one has contacted me."

So Payne and his crew are left to continue worrying and hoping for the best birthday present: a check from Ken Feinberg.

"That would help," said Ronnie Richardson. "Be something to keep us around, you know."

"There's no way I'll make it 30 to 90 days," Payne said. "There's no possible way. If they don't help me soon, I'll be the first one to fall face-first because of the BP oil spill."