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Signs appear on View Point Inn

One Corbett resident calls the former owner's posters 'ridiculous'
by: Jim Clark Vincent Johnson, left, and his girlfriend, Brianna Hillier, read the signs posted at the View Point Inn blaming Barack Obama for the failure of the facility. Johnson, an East Portland resident, had eaten at the inn a few times and enjoyed the experience. He and Hillier drove up the gorge to see the condition of the historic building.

Former View Point Inn owner Geoff Thompson and partner Angelo Simione have drawn attention to the fire-damaged historic property in Corbett again.

They recently attached three large posters on the front of the inn, criticizing the Obama Administration for not helping to reopen the inn. Simione said the posters, one of which shows Thompson crucified, make a point about government not helping small businesses.

Despite creditors and a court-appointed trustee working to determine the final stages of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy for the inn Tuesday, Aug. 23, Thompson and Simione said they are still planning to purchase and reopen the inn.

The top poster displays a photo of Thompson, a former model, from 1996 - naked and with arms outstretched - with the text, 'Small business crucified by the Obama Administration' in capital letters. The poster is flanked by two other posters, with one saying a small business loan could save the inn, while the other reads, 'Obama, does your bus stop here?'

One Corbett resident, who declined to be named because she resides near the inn, said she was shocked to see the signs and found them offensive.

Corbett resident Carnetta Boyd said she drove past the inn Thursday evening to see the signs after hearing about them from other residents in the area.

'Personally, I think it's ridiculous,' she said, adding that a few nearby neighbors complained that drivers were using their property to turn around and look at the signs.

Thompson and Simione previously attached other posters on the inn, including a letter that criticizes state and federal government officials and banks for not helping to save the inn, and a thank-you letter from Barack and Michelle Obama for a gift.

Thompson said he placed the three new posters on the building within the last week and that his message was self-explanatory.

'My small business has been pretty much crucified,' he said, adding that he had been unable to get a small business loan to keep running the inn.

A rooftop fire on July 10, caused by sparks from the chimney, damaged the inn's roof and upper floor, while the first and second floors sustained smoke and water damage as firefighters battled the blaze. Crews were able to salvage several items from the fire, including furniture and historical artifacts such as paintings and literature.

It was revealed after the fire that the inn's insurance had lapsed because of nonpayment, so Thompson and Simione started a campaign to fundraise up to $1 million to rebuild the inn.

Thompson lost control of the inn when the bankruptcy court converted his Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing - which allowed him to continue running the inn with protection from creditors - to Chapter 7, which means a trustee takes over, liquidates the debtors' assets and pays as much as possible to creditors.

Thompson said he and Simione are still responsible for the property and that Simione intends to purchase the inn and pay back any people who had reserved the inn for their events. He said private investors have agreed to put up around $2.5 million to rebuild the inn.

'There could be a happy ending, but it won't be from the Obama administration and the banks,' he said.

The trustee, Kenneth Eiler of Portland, could not be reached for comment.

Eiler has the option of abandoning the property and allowing the secured creditors to foreclose on it and put it up for auction. The proceeds would go toward paying the creditors' back.

Eiler filed a notice of intent in mid-August to abandon the property's assets and auction them off to the highest bidder. Simione then filed an offer of $2,500 to purchase the inn's furniture, which includes tables, chairs, lamps, desks and computers.

According to court documents, if the trustee receives another bid exceeding Simione's offer by at least $500 within 23 days of Aug. 17, the trustee will hold an auction.

Built in 1924, the inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Thompson and Simione underwent a three-year legal battle with government and environmental agencies to open the inn as a private business.

The inn's position on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge made it a popular place to hold weddings and special events.

The inn gained wider national and international attention when it served as the backdrop in 'Twilight,' the wildly popular vampire-themed movie based on Stephenie Meyer's best-selling series of books.