GAS CITY — Gas City opened its first ever splash pad on July 21 — a place for kids to cool off, get outside, and turn off their electronics.
Gas City hired a contractor to do the concrete work, but the decision to hire that particular business is not sitting well with some people because of the company president’s criminal past for theft and fraud.
A concerned Grant County citizen reached out to WRTV Investigates Kara Kenney, and what Kenney found has Gas City officials reevaluating the city’s procedures for selecting contractors.
The splash pad is one of the many projects Mayor Bill Rock has championed during his first term.
“We want to give the kids something to do and keep them out of trouble,” said Rock. “That’s one of the reasons why we are doing what we’re doing.”
The splash pad is finished and opened on July 21 with a ribbon cutting, and the mayor is happy with the concrete work.
But the city’s choice of contractor, JNJ Concrete out of Marion Indiana, is raising some questions.
“The job was almost finished before we got any word of anything," said Rock.
State records list Jason Hurlock as the President, Legal Representative and Registered Agent for JNJ Concrete and General Construction, an LLC formed in 2018.
Hurlock has two criminal convictions related to his business practices in which prosecutors said he took money from customers and didn’t do the work promised.
- GRANT COUNTY: In October 2018, Hurlock was convicted of theft and home improvement fraud in Grant County. He was sentenced to three years’ probation following a plea agreement in which prosecutors dismissed two additional theft charges.
- MADISON COUNTY: In November 2018, Hurlock was convicted of theft in a separate criminal case in Madison County. Hurlock was sentenced to four years’ probation and as of March 2023, had fully paid $69,237 in restitution to the victims— a Madison County couple who paid for a swimming pool, but prosecutors said Hurlock didn’t do the work.
Brian Johnson lives in Grant County and can’t believe Gas City hired JNJ Concrete.
“It’s a slap in the face,” said Johnson. “I think it makes (the city) look really bad for not vetting them."
Johnson is listed as one of the victims in the Grant County criminal case against Hurlock.
Prosecutors alleged Johnson paid Hurlock $7,300, half down, to do a retaining wall at his home in Marion in 2014.
“Never showed up,” said Johnson.
Johnson said it was his wife’s inheritance money.
“I feel ashamed,” said Johnson.
Johnson filed a civil lawsuit and in 2015 won a $51,799 judgment against Jason Hurlock DBA Hurlock's Concrete and Construction.
DBA stands for “doing business as” and allows someone to conduct business under a different identity than their own personal name.
The clerk’s office says in 2015, $3,844 was garnished from a bank account-- Jason W. Hurlock DBA Hurlock Concrete & Construction— but Johnson said the $3,844 went straight to his attorney.
Hurlock also made a $100 payment back in 2016, according to Johnson’s attorney and prosecutors, however Johnson said Hurlock has not made any other efforts to pay him back in the last seven years.
WRTV: You know he’s working now, and you’re hoping to get some money out of him now?
WRTV: You just want your money back?
Court records show Hurlock owes other people money too.
WRTV found several civil judgments against Hurlock and his businesses.
According to county clerks, these are the current amounts owed, including interest:
Ralph Jerger (Civil Lawsuit)
- $5,885.82 judgment against Jason Hurlock
RCS Contractor Supplies (Civil Lawsuit)
- $1,631 judgment against Hurlocks Concrete and Jason Hurlock
AmeriRent (Civil Lawsuit)
- $7,990.28 judgment is against Jason Hurlock
Brian Johnson (Civil Lawsuit)
- $81,714 judgment against Jason Hurlock DBA Hurlock’s Concrete and Construction
Brian Johnson called the Gas City mayor after the city contracted with JNJ Concrete.
"We don't do a background check, so we didn’t know,” said Rock. “We weren't contacted by Mr. Johnson until the hole was already dug, the rebar was already put. Had we known that we may have not."
Mayor Rock said they are doing their best to protect taxpayer money.
“We aren’t trying to do anything that’s going to hurt our city,” said Rock.
In May and June, the Redevelopment Commission minutes show they approved three contracts with JNJ Concrete:
- $47,860.00 (Splash Pad) – Work is 100% complete and has been paid in full, according to the mayor.
- $13,632.00 (Pavilion) – No work has been started and no payments have been made, according to the city.
- $23,104.00 (Fitness Court) – Work is 90% complete but no payments have been made to date, according to the city.
For the splash pad, the city requested bids from four companies—something the city did not have to do because it’s a smaller project.
JNJ Concrete was the only contractor that responded, according to the city engineer.
“We’ve always taken the lowest, most responsive bid,” said Rock.
The mayor says the city did not pay JNJ Concrete any money up front—they only paid after the city reviewed completed work.
WRTV asked the mayor if the city will be changing any procedures moving forward when it comes to selecting contractors.
“I would ask my city engineer to look at that,” said Rock. “We did have references and we did contact a couple people he did work for."
The day after we interviewed Rock, the mayor and the city engineer watched as JNJ Concrete poured and formed the concrete.
WRTV Investigates waited two hours until Jason Hurlock appeared to be taking break.
WRTV: Jason, can we talk to you real quick?
Hurlock: Not with a camera.
WRTV: Why not? We’d like to talk to you about this project. We’d like to talk to you about your past. This is an opportunity for you to tell your side of the story. We’d like to give you that opportunity.
Hurlock: You’re harassing me on a job site.
WRTV: I’m not harassing you. I’ve been standing here waiting for you to talk to me.
Hurlock: So, when I’m done working, we will talk.
Hurlock’s son, Jason Wesley, is listed on the Gas City contracts as an owner of JNJ Concrete.
Naomi Hurlock sent WRTV an email in which she said she also co-owns JNJ Concrete.
State records list Jason Hurlock as the president, Jason Wesley Hurlock as the vice president and Naomi Hurlock as the secretary.
WRTV: Are there three owners of the company? Can you straighten that out for me?
Hurlock: Two. Jason Wesley Hurlock and Naomi Hurlock.
WRTV: So, you’re not one of the owners?
Hurlock: Not anymore. Haven’t been since February.
WRTV: What is your title then?
Hurlock: I’m a foreman.
WRTV: So, you’re not the owner of the company anymore as of February?
Hurlock: (No response)
WRTV: What about the judgments? Are you going to pay those? What about Mr. Johnson’s judgment? Are you going to pay people back?
Hurlock did not respond or agree to an on-camera interview.
So WRTV Investigates emailed him and asked for proof he’s paid toward the judgments in his name or his businesses, and we are still waiting on a response.
Brian Johnson hopes he will get his money back.
“I think about it all the time,” said Johnson.
Johnson said the city needs to do a better job at checking who they are contracting with.
“Absolutely I do,” said Johnson. “This is proof positive they do.”