Cosby contractor quits before campsite, home remodel projects are finished

COSBY, Tenn. (WATE) – A retired Air Force veteran believed she had hired the right contractor to transform her property in Cosby at the edge of the Smokies. However, construction mistakes will have to be repaired and lots of money has been lost.

Nastaran Sowers, a retired Air Force officer and Afghanistan veteran, bought a nice piece of property in Sevier County earlier this year. From it, she planned to generate income by having some rustic campsites built. Her plans are on hold because she says the contractor she hired was a bad choice.

The rushing creek was perfect, an ideal location in the mountains for the centerpiece of a campsite for vacations. That’s what Sowers had planned.

Nastaran Sowers

“Yes, it was a beautiful serene area for the campers to enjoy,” said Sowers.

All she has is campsites that were never started.

“The plan was to put a road in and a septic in order to make a campground with 10 cabins and a bath house,” Sowers said.

The campground would have generated income following Sowers’s retirement from the Air Force.

“I had to pay someone else to come put that septic in. He never put the septic in,” she said.

The deal signed in March with K & G Contracting was for $115,000. The first payment due was $29,000 up front. The completion date was the end of May with a $200 a day penalty if delayed. Within months, the contractor had collected $57,000.

Sowers said she thought she was in great shape when she signed the contract. There’s also an old three-bedroom house on the property.

“He said for just a small amount of money, $47,000, he can redo completely the first floor and build a second floor for me,” Sowers said.

The remodel plan went horribly bad and repairs will have to be made to the 130-year-old structure. The old logs are still visible.

“The county asked me to get an engineer to evaluate the job that he was doing,” said Sowers.

In the engineering report, written in August, shoddy workmanship was documented.

“It says contractor had no intention of building a structurally sound two story house,” read Sowers.

In September, the contractor texted Sowers asking to resume the work he had started.

“I think it was Labor Day when he asked me for even more money,” she said.

There were a series of text messages. The contractor said he needed another $15,000 and that he’d make the house right.

“He’s caused tremendous grief, anxiety and frustration for this lady. For nights she has sat by and cried about this. It’s a real shame,” said Sowers’s boyfriend James Wright.

Kenneth Gleason (source: Sevier County Sheriff’s Office)

Kenneth Gleason is the man she hired. He was taken into custody earlier this year by Sevier County on an outstanding violation of probation charge from another state. He was also a suspect for alleged construction scams in Maryland. Gleason’s business address is a cabin rental facility in Cosby where heavy construction equipment was parked.

A woman who answered the door said Gleason was not there. He didn’t oblige WATE 6 On Your Side’s request for a return phone call, so we called him.

“I have proof – all the invoices – that I did the job,” Gleason said on the phone. He said he did nothing wrong and blamed Sowers, saying she didn’t want to pay him.

Sowers has hired another contractor to clear the land. She’d like to open a much smaller campsite next spring. She also has a warning for anyone considering doing business with Ken Gleason.

“Well, just watch out for him. Do not do business with him,” she said.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance files for licensed contractors show that for the type of job he was contracted to do, no general contractor’s license was issued for either Kenneth Gleason of Cosby or K&G Contracting of Cosby.

In his ads, Gleason claims his land improvement and demolition business is licensed and insured. It doesn’t say anything about remodeling homes.

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