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Ruling Delayed on Kelly Property

02/20/2004

NICEVILLE, FL --- Judge Robert Barron did not issue a ruling Friday on the legal standing of three heirs of the late Mattie Kelly of Destin, who are seeking to prohibit the Okaloosa-Walton Community College Foundation from selling property bequeathed to the college. Judge Barron withheld a ruling on whether the three heirs have legal standing to seek an injunction barring the sale, giving both sides 40 days to file additional materials and for possible consideration of a separate lawsuit from Pensacola Gulfcoast Keeper's Inc., that was filed moments before the scheduled proceedings.

Among the items cited in a motion by the attorney for the OWCC Foundation, was the fact that two of the three co-representatives for the Estate of Mattie Kelly, Imogene Kelly and Paul Sims, have already approved the sale in writing. The dissenting Estate representative, Carol Kelly, is a plaintiff in the original action that seeks to bar the sale. Details of the second suit by Pensacola Gulfcoast Keeper's Inc. are not yet available.

"O-W worked with the Estate of Mattie Kelly on strict guidelines that a buyer must follow in the use of the property, including environmental considerations as well as provisions to maintain the mausoleum," said Jim Chitwood, OWCC Foundation Executive Director. "The OWCC Foundation will continue to provide for the upkeep of the mausoleum."

The OWCC Foundation, which holds the deed to the 12.72 acres of property in Destin, has a valid sales contract for $8.1 million for the sale of the property. Dr. Bob Richburg, OWCC president, said proceeds from a sale would go to a permanent endowment fund from which the earnings would be used solely to carry out the provisions of the Kelly bequest through expanded activities of the OWCC Mattie Kelly Cultural and Environmental Institute.

"Mattie Kelly's bequest to the college called for OWCC to establish a cultural and environmental institute in her name and for the Institute to promote the arts and study of the bay," said Richburg. "The college established the Mattie Kelly Cultural and Environmental Institute in 1997. It is the Institute in her name and its work for the cultural life and environmental health of this region that was Mrs. Kellys dream."