"We want to save the land and keep it in the Dodge name rather than just giving up on it," said Rochelle Dodge.
On Tuesday keeping 305 Foster Road in the Dodge name seemed like a longshot. "It's been overwhelming," said Jerry Dodge, who along with his daughter, has been scrambling to find an affordable lawyer to take his case -- while Governor Peter Shumlin hired former attorney general Jerry Diamond to work for him.
"I haven't seen anything unethical or illegal in the transaction. Somebody on one side has had sellers remorse," Diamond said Wednesday.
Jerry Dodge sees it differently. He claims he didn't understand his options and now regrets selling his homestead to his neighbor, the governor, for a quarter of its assessed value. Shumlin bought Dodge's East Montpelier home and 16 acre property for $58,000, days before it was slated for a tax sale. Dodge did not have a lawyer for these negotiations.
The governor and his new attorney say they never doubted Dodge's competency. "This is someone who understands, who is intelligent -- that just because he did not graduate from high school you don't write him off and say that he doesn't understand transactions," Diamond said.
But the land deal opened the governor up to a firestorm of public scrutiny. Some claimed the millionaire took advantage of the ex-con. And after days of defending the deal, Shumlin agreed to renegotiate. "The governor made a commitment he was going to do whatever needed to be done to make it right," Diamond said.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Diamond said the governor is ready to make peace with Dodge and his family. "We really want to convey to the Dodge family that the governor is really concerned about making them happy and we've seen from their comments that they want their property back," he said.
Diamond said the governor is offering to return the East Montpelier deed to his neighbor if Dodge reimburses Shumlin for his investment -- including all home repairs, back taxes and the delinquent child support the governor paid in Dodge's name.
Reporter Jennifer Reading: "What would the Dodge family be required to pay back?
Jerry Diamond: I don't have the exact figure yet, but it's substantially less the actual $58,000.
Diamond says he got clearance from the governor to make the offer public. He has already reached out to Dodge about a settlement. "We're hoping that they'll listen to this and know that we're serious about it and to give us a call," he said.
Rochelle Dodge says she and her father are excited about the offer and they plan to accept. The Dodge family says they plan to meet with the governor and his lawyer to work out the details, but were told they'd have at least a year to repay the debt.
Rochelle Dodge says she plans to call the real estate attorneys Vermont Legal Aid suggested, but as of right now the family has not hired an attorney. Diamond stressed that he is strongly recommending that family retain legal counsel to help them navigate the settlement process.
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:21 AM EST2014-03-08 15:21:27 GMT
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries. They were injured while fighting a at the Bennett Farm on Route 15 on the Johnson-Cambridge town line. The fire started in a shed around 7:30 FridayMore >>
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:42 GMT
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury. They immediately took to Facebook after hearing about this fire and started planning to collectMore >>
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:05 GMT
Reporter: "What are some of the most common burn injuries that we see with kids coming into the hospital?" Jim Esdon, Dartmouth Hitchcock Injury Prevention Center: "This time of year, the glass frontedMore >>
We've had another cold week that's left homeowners cranking the heat. But what does that mean for kids' safety?More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:19 AM EST2014-03-08 15:19:21 GMT
Armed with just two L rods, 87-year-old John Wayne Blassingame starts looking for water by asking yes or no questions. "Does it go past 20 feet, does it go past 30 feet, yah," he says. The rods crossingMore >>
A national organization based in Danville says it is providing resources to people in desperate need to find water.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:31 AM EST2014-03-08 13:31:36 GMT
The Governor is traveling to Rhode Island Saturday. His office says Governor Peter Shumlin will be at Brown University in Providence taking part in a forum with the Rhode Island Governor. While theMore >>
The Governor is traveling to Rhode Island Saturday. More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:17 AM EST2014-03-08 13:17:30 GMT
We have some ideas for your Saturday. IRISH FESTIVAL The 19th annual Burlington Irish Heritage Festival kicks off today. There is a lecture about the role of Irish immigrants in the Civil War at theMore >>
Friday, March 7 2014 7:28 PM EST2014-03-08 00:28:44 GMT
Williston Police say, the powder was from a generic prescription medication. They say, the man was from Burlington and had the paperwork in his pocket with his medicine and that's how it got on there. More >>
Williston Police say, the powder was from a generic prescription medication. They say, the man was from Burlington and had the paperwork in his pocket with his medicine and that's how it got on there.More >>