Motel managers left out in the cold

The Hillcrest Motel in Hillsboro has been without heat since Jan. 7, and could be without electricity and water by the end of this week, unless something significant happens between now and then.

The managers, Cynthia and Daniel Draken, said they are running out of options in their attempts to contact ESC Properties, the company managing the facility at 808 East D St.

?I am totally shocked,? Cynthia Draken said Friday. ?The gas is off and so are the telephones, which affects Internet and the credit card machine.?

It?s a no-win situation for everyone.

Even if the heat was on, and a guest wanted to spend the night, but was paying with a credit card, she has no way to process the payment.

Adding to the problem, two other people who each people a room monthly, are faced with being homeless by the end of the week too, even though they have paid to live there.

Draken said that she and her husband have been doing their best to keep the pipes from freezing during last week?s single-digit temperatures, and the lack of heat in all the rooms.

?We kept the water circulating in the pipes and have done all we can do on our end,? she said.

Without money coming in, though, the future seems bleak for the nearly 60-year-old motel, according to the Drakens.

?We aren?t sure if the motel is being closed,? she said, ?or if the former owner, Charles Hui Yang, is getting it back.?

Draken said she isn?t even sure if Deepak Chopra of ESC Properties is the owner of the motel or if it still belongs to Yang.

The Drakens have managed the Hillcrest since September 2008.

During that time, Draken said, a lot of construction workers have rented rooms for the night or even a week or more.

?We have had hunters stay, and when the grain elevator was getting fixed, we had some of those crews staying here,? she said.

The motel was also a reasonable place for someone to stay while searching for a permanent place to live.

The Drakens, who have been managing motels for about 10 years, consider the Hillsboro facility to be a lucrative business. They cannot understand why Chopra is not taking care of the bills or why he isn?t paying their salary on a regular basis.

ESC Properties and Chopra are not strangers to the Drakens.

?We worked in Campbell, Calif., and we managed a motel in Pecos, Texas,? she said.

The motel in Texas was part of ESC Properties, and it was Chopra who asked the Drakens to move to Hillsboro and manage the Hillcrest.

In recent months, when the Drakens realized money was leaving the bank as fast as it was deposited, they became suspicious.

Although Draken talked to Chopra about when she might get paid, or about leaving money in the bank for repairs or paying utilities, he was vague in his answers.

It wasn?t until last Thursday that he quit communicating with the Drakens altogether.

When the gas was shut off and Cynthia Draken said she tried to reach Chopra to no avail, it was then that she decided to contact KSN Channel 3 and go public with the situation.

She said the television station did talk with Chopra, who told them he didn?t have any money to put into the motel.

Cynthia Draken talked about the situation with tears in her eyes.

?We love it here and our daughter, who is in eighth grade, has settled in and loves it here, too,? she said.

The Drakens are trying to stay positive about their situation. They know they won?t be able to stay at the motel much longer, but they also aren?t sure what will happen to them after Friday.

Their employer, Cynthia said, owes them about $5,000. Without receiving any income for months, they have no money saved up for a move.

?We need a place to live,? she said. ?We hope people will keep us in their prayers.?

Attempts by the Free Press to reach ESC Properties have been unsuccessful.

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