I will document my findings in the event that it might help someone
later. The Access 97 db was using a system.mdw file, which no one was
aware of. It contained the standard 2 users and groups. The admin
user and user group had open/exclusive rights to the db. Once we
removed those rights, the administrative locking message disappeared.
I wasn't too familiar with Access 97' use of system.mdw although I
have worked with Access 2000 system.mdw. I was surprised to learn
that I didn't see any reference to the system.mdw in the shortcut
property (ie. /wrkgroup with reference to its location). I had to use
Tools (if I recall correctly) to determine what system.mdw file was
being used. Or, maybe it was the workgroup administrator application
that pointed me to the correct location. Sorry but I searched so many
options looking for the right solution. Once I found the reference to
the system.mdw and the open/exclusive permissions on the database
object and removed them, it worked just as expected.