Data Knight 365: The fat lady clears her throat

My story in today’s Floyd Press outlines the latest chapter in the saga of Data Knight 365 .

That 51.5 acres of undeveloped land in Floyd’s mostly-empty Commerce Park will stay that way for a while. Data Knight 365 (DK3), dubbed “Dark Knight 365” by some in Floyd County,  appears ready to ride off into the sunset, along with its portfolio of unfulfilled promises and unmet goals.

William W. Byler, owner of record for DK3, is vacating his apartment at The Station on South Locust, telling his landlord he will be out by the end of the month — two days before the latest “final” deadline (Dec. 2) for closing on a $900,000 purchase of the land after mssing two previous deadlines for coming up with a $100,000 down payment. DK3 leaves Floyd County with our cash-strapped government owing more than $12,000 in legal bills and little chance of ever collecting. Other governments have tried, and failed, to collect from the folks involved in DK3. Some still try. Others gave up.

While it is still possible that someone might come up with the 100 grand for a down payment, few expect that to happen. “It’s over,” one EDA member told me earlier this week. When the Dec. 2 deadline passes, probably all that will be left of the grand promises of a $67.8 million data center will be the blame game.

For some, that game has already started. Promoter Paul Allen told local contractor Ed Erwin recently that my stories about questionable past dealings of the principals in the deal “drove away investors.”  Dan Delfino, head of Power Direct, the one-time “money behind the deal,” says I poisoned the waters and made it impossible for him to do business in Floyd County.  I’m told that at least one county official will claim publicly that I ruined the deal by writing about the past problems of Allen, Delfino and others in the project.

I doubt seriously that anything I wrote “killed” the data center deal, if it finally dies on Dec. 2. If anything, what I wrote may have prevented some in Floyd County from losing money by investing in the scheme. The DK3 deal appeared doomed from the start, torpedoed by greed, grandiose promises and the desperation of a cash-strapped county. To some who actually know a thing or two about business deals, this one smelled from the start and was probably dead on arrival before it was announced.

The warning signs were there for anyone who took the time to look closely at DK3 and it principals. The past problems of Allen and his failed company, B-Telecom, the history of Delfino and Power Direct, the overblown claims of jobs and benefits to the county: All served notice early on that the deal most likely would not fly.

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