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Tri-State Transport

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SEARCY -

Natural gas production has given an economic boost to some areas across the northern third of Arkansas.

But the bubble has burst for one group of workers.

Their company has closed its doors and they can't get any answers...or paychecks...out of their former bosses.

Most of the drivers working for Tri-State Transport were putting in over 60 hours a week and pulling in over $1,000.00 a week.

But all that suddenly stopped...and thousands of dollars remains owed to a couple dozen employees.

In a time when many Arkansas families live paycheck to paycheck, the lack of paychecks has hit the former employees of Tri-State Transport hard.

"We don't have the other two checks I was supposed to be receiving in," says former Tri-State driver Kevin Robinson of Beebe. "So...we have had to borrow money from family in order to pay bills. We've had to put bills....well extend them out."

With Tri-State Transport already shut down, we had to go looking for answers about missing paychecks elsewhere.

Ray and Tia Clemons also own a gas station and the Joyful Cafe just up the road.

When we stopped by an employee locked the door and asked us to leave the property.

When we went to the Trendy Trunk, a Clemons owned business in Searcy, it was closed.

When we stopped by the Clemons' home on Country Club Road in Searcy...no one was home.

An attorney for the Clemons has bad news for the former employees. He says the couple will file bankruptcy soon. He says the Clemons' main client...BHP...is leaving Arkansas and that has left the Clemons in a financial mess.

But the employees say BHP didn't leave Arkansas. It left Tri-State Transport because of safety violations.

"No...we have documented proof that shows that BHP upheld and paid out on all of the billing," says former Tri-State driver James Goldsmith of Heber Springs. "The company was under suspension for several violations with BHP company."

BHP will now have to contract with other companies to haul water to drilling sites.

Former Tri-State Transport workers hope these companies are hiring.

Air date: July 23rd, 2013