Ken Ham’s Ark Bonds — 14 Jan 2014 Update

Noah's Ark (by Edward Hicks, 1846)

Noah’s Ark (by Edward Hicks, 1846)

We don’t need to remind you about the bonds being issued to finance the proposed Ark Encounter project, which will be operated by a company controlled by Answers in Genesis (AIG). AIG is the on-line ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia. It also owns and operates the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

Our last post on this topic was ten days ago, the 04 Jan 2014 Update, when, as before, the news from Bloomberg was grim. They said:

A Kentucky theme park to be built around a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark may sink unless investors purchase about $29 million in unrated municipal bonds by Feb. 6.

The still-needed $29 million was in addition to all the other funds that had been previously raised. And if that goal isn’t met, then all the money from bond sales must be refunded. They also quoted Hambo as blaming his problems on the atheists, who were somehow disrupting the bond sale.

We keep looking for news, but Hambo’s website has been silent (which says a lot) and the financial press isn’t flogging the subject, so an eerie silence is all we’ve heard for the past ten days. But today we found something at the website of Cincinnati public radio station WVXU: Developers believe: Noah’s Ark will happen.

This isn’t a story from the financial press, but Cincinnati isn’t far from Hambo’s operation, so the radio station dug up what they could and it’s the only information we can find. Here are some excerpts, with our bold font added for emphasis:

2014 was supposed to bring the opening of a huge replica of Noah’s Ark in a theme park just off I-75 at Williamstown, Kentucky. But the developers are having trouble raising funds.

The hundred acre site for the multi-million dollar version of Noah’s Ark is about a 40 miles south of Cincinnati. But all you can see on the hill-top site today are posts marking the perimeter of what promoters hope will be a wooden replica of the ark, three stories high and 500 feet long. That’s almost one and a half football fields.

“All you can see on the hill-top site today are posts.” Why does that remind us of Shelley’s poem, Ozymandias:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. …
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Too melancholy? Okay, never mind. Let’s read on from the news story:

A key executive of the development firm [probably Mike Zovath, senior vice president of AIG] says the ark will be the largest timber framed structure in the United States, possibly the world.

Wowie! The article continues:

“We want to present the ark as a plausible event in history,” says Zovath. “And that if that piece of biblical history is true then Jesus Christ’s coming to earth and giving his life as a payment for our sins is equally true.”

Nobody could argue with that. Here’s more:

“We just want to make sure that people who have doubts come and see the actual ark to show people this can be built. It can be done,” Zovath says.

An admirable attitude! Moving along:

Funding Ark Encounter hasn’t been easy. Zovath says more than $14 million has been donated. But $73 million is needed to start construction and at least $125 million for the whole project, according to Answers in Genesis.

Late last year, the city of Williamstown offered a bond issue hoping investors would make up the difference. The bond closing was set for December but is now extended until at least February. People closely connected with the bond issue will not answer questions. But investment experts point out that the bonds aren’t secure, are highly speculative, and a risky bet.

That’s interesting. The sale of the bonds has been “extended until at least February.” That could mean that if Hambo can’t raise the funds by the latest deadline of 06 Feb, the underwriters will have yet another go at it. Hey — why not? Another excerpt:

Darrell Link, the judge executive of Grant County, is among Kentucky political leaders backing the project as a major tourist attraction. “I suppose that we’ll find out in the next year or two just how quickly this is going to be a reality,” Link said.

It would be silly for us to refer to him as “Missing Link,” so we won’t do it. Besides, he’s not missing. Other then Zovath, he’s the only person willing to talk. On with the article:

Rick Skinner, the mayor of Williamstown, who was a key figure in the bond issue offering, is among those who declined to comment at this time.

Why won’t those people talk about this thing? Ah well, that makes it more exciting. Everybody likes a good mystery. Here’s one last excerpt:

“The whole project, just like the museum project, is really a matter of God’s timing as he moves people to donate or buy bonds or do other things to help the project along,” Zovath says.


Zovath says the ark will open two years after construction starts. When they start construction, he adds, is out of their control.

So there you are, dear reader. Will the funds be raised? Will Hambo’s ark be built? AIG says it’s out of their control. Wise words indeed.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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32 responses to “Ken Ham’s Ark Bonds — 14 Jan 2014 Update

  1. “The whole project, just like the museum project, is really a matter of God’s timing as he moves people to donate or buy bonds or do other things to help the project along,” Zovath says.

    If God wants people to believe in him, there are many more efficient and effective ways to go about it than moving people to give money to Ken Ham to build a tourist attraction.

    So if this doesn’t come off, will Ham conclude that God didn’t want him to do it? Will he blame God for not moving enough people to donate?

  2. Ed speculates: “So if this doesn’t come off, will Ham conclude that God didn’t want him to do it?”

    The tickets for the Bill Nye debate sold out in two minutes. Perhaps God likes Nye better than he likes Noah’s Ark?

  3. News item sez: “…the ark will be the largest timber framed structure in the United States, possibly the world.”

    Nowhere near – the “Trestle” structure is “1,000 feet long, 125 feet (about 12 stories) tall, and constructed of 6.5 million board-feet of lumber.” – see Wikipedia article “

  4. We want to present the ark as a plausible event in history,” says Zovath.

    So, you are going to have only four men working on it with bronze tools and no heavy motorized equipment?

  5. …the ark will be the largest timber framed structure in the United States, possibly the world.”

    Even if it’s not the largest use of wood for a single structure, think how many useful homes could be built using these materials instead of being wasted on some simplistic, useless structure that will quickly deteriorate, I’m sure, in the KY weather and as well being fouled with the stench of Ham’s zoo animals.

  6. “We want to present the ark as a plausible event in history,” says Zovath.

    Hey — anyone can build a big structure of wood on land. If they want to be convincing, they should build it on nearby Williamstown Lake, to prove that it can float — upright. After all, no matter what Ken Ham calls it, it’s not an ark if it’s sitting on land — just a big barn.

    I can’t find any reference to “Noah’s barn” in the Bible.

  7. Note that the “Trestle” referenced above was built without nails!
    I wonder if they are going to build their ark without power tools?

  8. gnome de net, nice reference.

    Did you also notice in the pic the people trying to get into the Ark, among them those damn sinning children that the great deity finds offensive and had to kill off? But also the other enterprise by Hart that is doing relatively well but got zilch in funds. What a joke, oh yes, and Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul are from this backward state as well, pushing to bring the whole country down with them.

  9. DavidK: “…think how many useful homes could be built using these materials instead of being wasted on some simplistic, useless structure…”

    Perhaps we should think of it as “Habitat For Zoomanity”?

  10. Frederic Bastiat

    How did Noah raise $125 million?

  11. Pope retiredsciguy confesses

    I can’t find any reference to “Noah’s barn” in the Bible.

    That’s because you are clinging to the outdated KJV. You need to consult a more modern translation, such as The New Huckster’s Gospel to find relevant passages, viz.:

    Neuteronomy 12:36

    Old MacNoah had a barn; yah-weh, yah-weh, O!

    2nd Epistle to the Gulliblites 3:17:

    Verily, It is more blessed to give unto the snazzy showmen than to receive a return on thy investment

    Fluke 18:3-4

    Take, keep, this is thy lifetime boarding pass to the Ark Encounter; frame it in remembrance of getting conned

    Ludiviticus 6:14

    Give dough unto me, all ye who art weary and burthened, and I will give thee a bond that shall not yield even unto the seventh times seven generation

    Revelations of St. Con 58:13-14

    Blessed is he that signeth the monthly standing order to the ministry of cdesign proponentsists without reading the small print

  12. Ed:

    So if this doesn’t come off, will Ham conclude that God didn’t want him to do it? Will he blame God for not moving enough people to donate?

    More than likely the first- after all, having god on your side means you’re blessed if you do and blessed if you don’t.

  13. Stephen Kennedy

    A look at the official offering documents by the town of Williamstown, Kentucky that offered the bonds and the brokers who are the underwriters of the bonds is long and turgid but does have some very interesting information:

    As of September 30, 2013, AIG had already spent $14 million on the ark encounter for preliminary architectural design work, engineering consulting work and permits and licenses among other things. They have probably spent a good bit more since 9/30/13 since the design work is still not complete and not all permits have been obtained.

    There is a mortgage of over $4.4 million on the land for the ark park that AIG hopes to pay off with part of the bond proceeds.

    There will be an obligatory redemption of all bonds if $45.5 million is not raised by March 1, 2014. This differs from the Bloomberg report of Jan 3, 2014 that stated the forced redemption would take place if $55 million was not raised by February 6, 2014. I do not know if Bloomberg was mistaken or there has been a change in the offering conditions since the documents were first printed.

    I think we can conclude that not getting this bond offering completed would be a punishing blow to AIG since they would have nothing to show for the over $14 million already spent. They would also be stuck with a $4.4 million dollar mortgage on the land they have already purchased and is producing no revenue. Finally, at some point they are going to have to address the issue of the more than $5 million in advance sales of lifetime boarding passes for a project that is going to be completed on “God’s time”.

  14. Having worked for a large corporation that actually built things, to have already spent $14 million on this project is nothing short of criminal. Somebody is lining their pockets and what really makes me angry is that I was unable to bill them a million or two for “consulting.” Hey, I’m a great consultant, just ask me!

  15. It supposedly took Noah 120 or so years to build this sucker, so he would have had plenty of time to scalp and scam the locals to procure the money and materials he used in its construction, which after all, were not free even to him. And just like in Ham’s case today, there was absolutely no return on investment on the bonds in Noah’s time, other than “go buy yourself a new swimsuit.”

  16. Stephen, thanks again for wading through the slime pit that is AiG’s finances to give us your opinions on the matter. My thought at the moment, based on absolutely nothing other than Hambeaux’s well known ability to fleece the flock, is that he’ll find a few wealthy lunatics with more money than brains to pick up the slack in time to save his bacon. And, thanks to our pal Bill Nye, Hambeaux will increase his exposure to more sheep who really, really want to be fleeced for Jeebus.

  17. Ahmanson could easily bail him out, but unfortunately he apparently prefers the Discoveroids’ scam. Check out the other thread for Ham’s latest “food fight” with the Discoveroids, no doubt brought on by this latest insult. Though it’s an odd food fight where only Ham throws the food, and the Discoveroids, with scrambled egg all over their faces, just stand there and says “Food? what food?”

  18. But when you think about this ancient Noah thing, how indeed did this man come by all the resources he needed to contruct such a huge boondoggle? The bible says nothing, save for gopher wood. It would have involved a tremendous amount of resources that only a king could command, and Noah was not a king. Did he persuade friends to lend him a ton of wood here and a bucket of pitch there for a new addition that he was building on his home that went on for 120 years? Did he use nails, though likely not yet invented? And the labor force was only himself and his sons? It’s assumed he had no power tools. Did he own so much acreage that he could easily build his ark on his south 40? Perhaps this is why this story so unbelievable, let alone the waters from the sky’s water sphere, etc. But surely Ham has an answer for all of this.

  19. DavidK writes, “But surely Ham has an answer for all of this.”

    Yep — Goddidit. Sez so in the Bible.

  20. “the ark will be the largest timber framed structure”
    But that’s unbiblical! Johan Huibers, the Dutchman who actually build an ark knows.

    Anything larger is heresy. Yes, Ol’ Hambo defies his Creator!

    @Retiredsciencguy: “to prove that it can float ”
    Ha, we Dutchies beat you at it. That Huibers thingy totally floats. God is with us, not with you Americans. Now I understand why Ol’ Hambo’s project will get to naught.

  21. The Dutch Ark only floats because it’s on metal barges. A wooden ship of that size would never be seaworthy. Cheaters.

  22. Let me add my thanks to Stephen Kennedy for his excellent sleuthing in the Williamstown annals; great stuff!

  23. Frank J declares

    Ahmanson could easily bail him out, but unfortunately he apparently prefers the Discoveroids’ scam.

    It’s very rare for me to disagree with you, but on this one I do.

    First off, you (of all people!) know that ID isn’t a ‘theory’ in competition with Biblical-literalistic Creationism; it isn’t any kind of ‘theory’ or science at all, it is wholly and exclusively a fig leaf for the very explicit political agenda as set forth in the Wedge Document.. Not even the most strident of ID advocates of the Disco’Tute actually believe ID as it stands (e.g. that complexity in nature is evidence of an otherwise untestable ‘Intelligent Designer’ who could be Extraterrestrial Aliens, Time Travellers, &c. &c., but of course we all know–nudge nudge wink wink–it’s the God of the Bible). ID is simply the thin end of the wedge for displacing science with that ole time oogity-boogity; let’s start with a vague ‘Intelligent Designer’ before we drive the wedge in further and get to the hard stuff.

    And Ahmanson is a full-tilt believer in the very hard stuff (Rushdoony’s Christian Dominionism and its theocratic agenda). I don’t at all think he “prefers the Discoveroids’ scam” to the exclusion of others (he was previously on the board of the Chalcedon Foundation, and only left because they weren’t hard core enough!).

    If anything, it would not surprise me if an Ahmanson bailed out Ham–having extracted a “Don’t rock the boat” (or indeed, “Ark”) with too much public squabbling with workers of the wedge. But even then, those little spats between Ham and the DI don’t actually do either of them any harm at all, when you think about it. Each needs to demonstrate some distance from the other the better to fleece their respective flocks.

  24. Diogenes remonstrates:

    The Dutch Ark only floats because it’s on metal barges. A wooden ship of that size would never be seaworthy. Cheaters.

    That kind of thinking will earn you an Eternal Lifetime Pool Pass to the Lake of Fire.

    No one knows exactly what the gopher wood of the Bible was (even AiG say it was some sort of antediluvian species that perished in the flood), so how can you be certain that the wood of magical gopher trees wasn’t possessed of the strength of drop-forged steel whilst weighing no more than titanium? Or how can you deny that gopher wood, endowed such remarkable hydro-repellent properties of buoyancy by means of oogity-boogity, could have been used for fashioning the soles of sandals that enabled one to walk on water? Were you there?

    Hoera voor de Nederlandse! say I!

  25. Wikipedia has a good entry for the term gopher wood. Has Hambo stated what wood he will use?

  26. There was a recent discussion on the Intertubes, so it must be true, that “gopher” wood meant “shaped” wood. That would mean planks instead of rough logs. It didn’t refer to the Biblical “kind” of wood.

    Unfortunately for Scambo, the exact meaning of the inerrant Word of God in the Bible that is literally, and figuratively and downright, by golly, True ™ has been lost in the many translations, transliterations and transcriptions.

    Having raised a son, though, I suspect that Noah’s worthless spawn whined to him every morning, “What do I do today, Dad?” and he told them, “Go fer wood.”

    And that is the rest of the story.

  27. I went to Google Images and tried searching for images of “gopher wood.”

    What has been seen cannot be unseen.

  28. Before I peek, I’m guessing aroused male specimens of the family Geomyidae?

  29. @Megalonyx:

    I agree that Discoveroids don’t “actually believe ID as it stands.” But not because they privately believe that there are “kinds,” a young or flat earth, etc., but rather because they know that evolution, including ~4 billion years of common descent, is the only explanation that makes sense, with or without designer “intervention.” But will go to their graves never admitting it – aside from the occasional tantalizing clues that support the “radical idea” I got from Ronald Bailey 16 years ago. I also part company with nearly everyone (including Bailey?) in that I think that Discoveroids are sincere when they insist that the designer they claimed to have found is not necessarily God. If I’m wrong that means that Behe admitted at Dover that God may be dead! Where I think they are insincere is in the claim that they caught any designer. But even if they truly think they caught “some designer” they often admit that (1) they hope it’s God, and not just some hapless lackey, and (2) they personally believe that God is the ultimate designer, regardless. Many of their “Darwinist” critics also admit (2), so at best there’s nothing to gain by dwelling on that issue.

    Back to where we agree: I was a bit tongue-in-cheek above because it would not surprise me if Ahmanson bailed out Ham, or anyone who will misrepresent science in order to promote his theocratic agenda. But I see the Discoveroids, not Ham And his “Flintstones cartoon,” as the “hard stuff.” Their “big tent” scam welcomes Ham’s “heliocentric YEC,” flat-earthism, progressive OEC, even common descent, as long as one is willing to sign on to the theocratic agenda. In contrast, heliocentric YEC is risky to that agenda because it makes too many testable claims that many (most?) self-described Biblical literalists flatly deny.

    Contrary to the media caricature, if “theocrats” ever get their way it will not be “heliocentric YEC or nothing,” but rather “don’t ask, don’t tell when life began, which are the ‘created kinds’ etc.” IOW, it will be ID’s big tent, just with more openly Biblical language. Contrary to common speculation, I doubt that Jews like Medved and Catholics like Behe will be “excommunicated,” or that Dembski will change his old-earth position, or stop admitting that there’s no evidence of a global Flood, while encouraging people to “believe it anyway.” The “convergence, neither sought nor fabricated” of evidence that has most major religions conceding evolution will not go away, so the theocrats’ only chance at success is to go totally postmodern, with Ham, Behe, flat-earthers, Genesis 1 and 2, etc. all “correct,” with contradictions just “in our mind.”

  30. Gopher wood? How the hell did Noah ever harvest trees in Minnesota?

  31. @ Frank J: Many thanks–again–for another thoughtful (and thought-provoking) analysis; always a treat to read your insightful take on things.