Former Color-Tex employees aren't banking on seeing money they're owed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

From staff reports
For eight years, Dave Risdon said former Color-Tex workers would get the money owed them in back wages.
Yeah, right.
Former employees interviewed Wednesday predicted they’ll never see their share of roughly $100,000 still owed to them.
About 320 people lost their jobs when the plant closed in 2000, and they never received their final paychecks totaling $160,000. Risdon took over the property in 2001.
Risdon fashioned big plans for High Rock Raceway on the same site as Color-Tex and promised when that project was off and running the former Color-Tex workers would receive their back wages. He since paid $60,000 into a 401(k) plan.
Now Risdon is out as chief executive officer of the raceway, severing his ties to the project.
“Well, I think the man ought to be hung,” former Color-Tex worker Sylvia Jean Brady of Gold Hill said.
Brady had worked at the plant for 32 years. She said she actually gave up hope of seeing $400 owed to her “right after it closed.”
“I can’t actually believe they’ve never done anything to the man,” she said of Risdon. “… It’s sickening.”
Brady is currently undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments for a spot on her lung, which she said probably came from her days at the mill.
“You know the money would be appreciated,” she said. “… It’s inoperable, but I’m hoping it will be all right.”
Brady worked at Dan Nicholas Park and the East Rowan YMCA for several years after losing her job, but the pay never compared to what she was making at Color-Tex.
A lot of the former workers have died and others have cancer, she said. For many, when the mill closed, so did their doors of opportunity, Brady said, because they had worked their lifetimes at the mill with a limited education.
“We’re still waiting on our money,” said Betty Farmer, another former Color-Tex employee. “I don’t think I’ll see it in my lifetime.”
Walter Goodman agreed.
“Well, since they fired Mr. Risdon, he’s the one that owes it to us, so I guess we’ll just let that one go.” Goodman said.
Another former Color-Tex employee, Marvin Poole, also expressed doubts the raceway will ever happen, with money as tight as it is.
Brian Coughenhour, a former employee who now lives in Edenton, says he was shocked recently when he heard the town of Spencer signed a 20-year working agreement with Risdon and the raceway.
“I kind of figured it was going to be coming.” Coughenhour said of Risdon’s firing.
“Pretty much everybody that I talked to, we didn’t ever expect to get our money, it should’ve been taken care of earlier.”
Coughenhour said Risdon “had all kinds of opportunities to get something done.”
“It’s amazing all the different things he said he’s going to do with the property,” he added. “It’s crazy.”
Mark Wineka, Drew Sechler and Nathan Hardin contributed to this report.