"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.
Monday, December 9 2013 5:58 AM EST2013-12-09 10:58:56 GMT
An American singer with Vermont ties is making waves with her music halfway across the globe. Jennifer Grout has emerged as the unlikely singing sensation on the overseas reality show Arabs Got Talent. UnlikelyMore >>
An American singer with Vermont ties is making waves with her music halfway across the globe.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 5:51 AM EST2013-12-09 10:51:48 GMT
Usually the Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service is busy saving lives or responding to emergencies. But right now, members are selling Christmas trees to raise money for the finishing touches on theirMore >>
Many different groups sell Christmas trees this time of year to raise money for their organization. And for the third year, that includes an ambulance service.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 5:44 AM EST2013-12-09 10:44:43 GMT
Police say a Killington driver hit and killed a New Hamphire man. They say 26-year-old Kyle Wilson of Enfield went out for a walk overnight Saturday in Killington and never came back. Friends went outMore >>
Police say a Killington driver hit and killed a New Hamphire man.More >>
Sunday, December 8 2013 11:56 PM EST2013-12-09 04:56:59 GMT
An Enfield, New Hampshire man is dead. And a Killington driver has been charged in connection with the death. It happened Saturday night on the Killington Road. Police say 26-year-old Kyle Wilson wentMore >>
An Enfield, New Hampshire man is dead. And a Killington driver has been charged in connection with the death. More >>
Sunday, December 8 2013 10:36 PM EST2013-12-09 03:36:50 GMT
A Burlington congregation made a short pilgrimage to it's new home Sunday. The Christ Presbyterian Church has leased property from the University of Vermont for the last 35 years. But UVM has decidedMore >>
The Christ Presbyterian Church has leased property from the University of Vermont for the last 35 years. But UVM has decided not to renew its lease.More >>
Sunday, December 8 2013 10:35 PM EST2013-12-09 03:35:27 GMT
The 5th annual Festival of Trees in St. Albans is helping to feed the hungry this holiday season. Thirty decorated trees are on display in City Hall. Some of the trees have been auctioned off and theMore >>
Thirty decorated trees are on display in City Hall. Some of the trees have been auctioned off and the rest will be given away at a raffle.More >>
Sunday, December 8 2013 10:02 PM EST2013-12-09 03:02:41 GMT
Burlington Police are looking for two suspects involved in an assault and robbery.It happened on Front Street Sunday afternoon. The victim told police he was held up at gunpoint by two African AmericanMore >>
Burlington Police are looking for two suspects involved in an assault and robbery.More >>
Sunday, December 8 2013 9:34 PM EST2013-12-09 02:34:59 GMT
"It was always a lot of fun. It was a great way to dress up and have a fancy party -- something that we usually didn't get to go to, big fancy events," said Ann Cunningham. Cunningham, a native of Burlington,More >>
How do you spread holiday cheer? For decades, one Vermont family has kept up a tradition to throw a christmas party for hundreds of families in need.More >>