UPDATE: Five Workers Still Stranded as Blame Placed on Contractor

7 years 4 months 2 days ago Tuesday, January 22 2013 Jan 22, 2013 Tuesday, January 22, 2013 11:31:00 PM CST January 22, 2013 in News
By: Meghann Mollerus
loading

COLUMBIA - Five of the 11 Atlanta construction workers hired through Craigslist to work at a local student housing development site remained stranded in Columbia Tuesday night, according to one of those laborers.

Barceneas Cosby said the Econo Lodge at I-70 Drive Southwest, where he and the four other men have been staying since arriving in Columbia last week, told them they must leave the hotel by Wednesday morning.  But, according to the men, they have no financial means of returning to Atlanta.

They are part of a group of 50 construction workers from Atlanta who claim they have been stuck in Columbia since they responded to a Craigslist ad posted on Jan. 14, 2013, which promised them $1,000 a week and reimbursement for travel and lodging, in return for conducting construction work at a Columbia Aspen Heights site (located on Ponderosa Street and Bethel Road). 

Cosby said the hired laborers soon realized they were not being paid as promised, so they left the site Thursday and have been living at the Econo Lodge since then.  He said 11 of them did not have money to get home to Atlanta and have been relying on food donations from local churches.

The EconoLodge's owner--who refused to disclose his full name to KOMU 8, citing his other profession as a phsyician--said his hotel is one of three hotels (along with a local Motel 6 and Super 8) involved in the situation.  He claimed the contractor--Black Sparta, run by a man named Ruben Jones--that apparently helped hire the workers owes his hotel between $17,000 and $18,000 for more than 40 rooms Black Sparta has rented out over the past month. 

The EconoLodge owner refuted laborers' claims that they were asked to leave and said his hotel will not consider asking them to do so until it determines whether Black Sparta will pay for the rooms.  The owner said Black Sparta sent him a letter claiming it would send the hotel a cashier's check by Friday for the total amount owed.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, KOMU 8 helped Aspen Heights contact the stranded workers.  Aspen Heights spokesperson Stuart Watkins said his company is not involved in the hiring of workers and does not have a contract with Black Sparta.  But, in response to media reports, he said Aspen Heights project manager Thomas Partin reached out to the Columbia site's superintendent, who then drove over to the Econo Lodge to meet with the workers and figure out travel logistics.

In an e-mailed statement, Aspen Heights wrote, it is "researching the facts and details pertaining to the group of individuals who responded to a staffing agency inquiry unaffiliated with Aspen Heights.  This particular issue is directly between a staffing agency, construction subcontractor and its employees; however, we are looking into ways to help the individuals that are stranded in Columbia, Mo.  At this time, the individuals have not reached out to Aspen Heights for support."

Cosby confirmed his workers did not contact Aspen Heights for help.  Instead, he said they attempted to contact Black Sparta, staffing agency Everything Staffing and R-Energy, the Texas-based company Watkins said is the subcontractor for Aspen Heights's Columbia site.  Watkins explained R-Energy uses Everything Staffing and Black Sparta to hire workers.

The co-owner of Georgia-based Everything Staffing, Kristine Williams, said, "You know, we were basically bamboozled as well. We were lied to by Black Sparta and his affiliates. So we're doing everything in our power to try and fix the situation voluntarily."

Neither Black Sparta nor R-Energy returned any of KOMU 8's calls on Monday or Tuesday.  Following Aspen Heights's alleged agreement to meet with and help the stranded workers at the EconoLodge, subsequent subsequent calls to Cosby and Aspen Heights late Tuesday evening went unreturned.

 

Related Stories

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA – The messy weather pattern we’ve been in is about to head east and we’ll be left with cooler... More >>
7 hours ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 9:57:00 PM CDT May 26, 2020 in Weather
LAKE OF THE OZARKS —After videos of a crowded Lake of the Ozarks bar went viral over Memorial Day weekend,... More >>
7 hours ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 9:45:58 PM CDT May 26, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - With schools closed and after school programs cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the community has gotten creative... More >>
8 hours ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 9:37:00 PM CDT May 26, 2020 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY — Deputies from the Callaway County Sheriff's Office arrested an 18-year-old from Tebbetts on Monday. Just after... More >>
8 hours ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 9:03:11 PM CDT May 26, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY — Some elementary and middle schools in Jefferson City will be holding drive-through celebrations for students. ... More >>
8 hours ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 8:49:00 PM CDT May 26, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA —A formal plea of not guilty in the murder of Mengqi Ji was filed on behalf of Joseph... More >>
9 hours ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 8:22:00 PM CDT May 26, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday that Missouri voters will see the constitutional amendment to expand Medicaid eligibility... More >>
9 hours ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 8:03:00 PM CDT May 26, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA — As state and commercial testing is more available for the Missourians, the number of confirmed cases is rising.... More >>
9 hours ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 8:00:00 PM CDT May 26, 2020 in News
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The top health official in Kansas on Tuesday urged Kansans who joined large gatherings at Missouri's... More >>
10 hours ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 6:49:56 PM CDT May 26, 2020 in News
MISSOURI - Missouri is moving into a new phase of COVID-19 reopening that will implement a new set of guidelines... More >>
11 hours ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 5:44:00 PM CDT May 26, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Governor Mike Parson will deliver his daily COVID-19 briefing live from the State Capitol in Jefferson City... More >>
15 hours ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 2:01:00 PM CDT May 26, 2020 in News
KANSAS CITY - The Missouri Western District Court of Appeals upheld a ruling Tuesday that the city of Columbia acted... More >>
17 hours ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 12:14:00 PM CDT May 26, 2020 in News
HOWARD COUNTY - A 30-year-old Armstrong, Mo. man is dead after a two person crash on Missouri State Highway 5... More >>
20 hours ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 8:38:00 AM CDT May 26, 2020 in Top Stories
(CNN) - Despite dips in recent years in gun violence and the sanctioned stay-at-home orders, Chicago saw its deadliest Memorial... More >>
23 hours ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 5:54:36 AM CDT May 26, 2020 in News
As COVID-19 spreads, KOMU 8 will continue to update you about the impacts on the community. You can find... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, May 26 2020 May 26, 2020 Tuesday, May 26, 2020 5:29:00 AM CDT May 26, 2020 in News
CHARITON COUNTY —A tornado briefly touched down in Chariton County just after 6 p.m., according to the National Weather Service... More >>
1 day ago Monday, May 25 2020 May 25, 2020 Monday, May 25, 2020 9:50:00 PM CDT May 25, 2020 in News
O’FALLON — Missouri’s health director issued a dire warning Monday after photos and video showed Memorial Day weekend revelers partying... More >>
1 day ago Monday, May 25 2020 May 25, 2020 Monday, May 25, 2020 8:39:00 PM CDT May 25, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic sidelining all youth sports from play, one local coach decided to get some practice... More >>
1 day ago Monday, May 25 2020 May 25, 2020 Monday, May 25, 2020 5:57:00 PM CDT May 25, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 67°
6am 66°
7am 67°
8am 68°
9am 70°