(03/09/2001)
By Bob Weaver

Conflict, confusion, hard work and new vision was part of a one and one-half hour meeting of the official board of the Minnora Community Center, Wednesday evening. The board is divided over how to manage the center, with counter charges being exchanged. Issues were raised over mismanagement, failure to follow by-laws, personal misconduct and charges that some of the board members had not been notified about meetings.

Wanda Richards

Larry Cottrell

Most of the conflict aired at the meeting was between President Wanda Richards and board member Larry Cottrell, who circulated a release defining six problems which he wanted the board to address. David Corson, who has filed a civil suit against MCC for breach of contract, was not present.

Richards read a statement at the beginning of the meeting defining the "hard work" it has taken to get the center going and keeping it afloat financially. She then presented a sixteen item agenda for the meeting, focusing on current money problems trying to pay a $1367 electric bill.

She said the center borrowed $596.00 from Lawrence Jarvis, husband of board member Rose Jarvis, to keep the insurance from defaulting, which was paid back on February 28.

Cottrell charged that decisions were made without the consent of the board. Richards responded "There are some things we do need to go ahead with," referring to the daily operation of the center.

Cottrell raised concerns about not having a Treasurer since October, asking who had been acting in that capacity. Richards said she was. The board then elected Donna Jordan as Treasurer, after which she asked for an immediate audit.

Bill Howley advised the board last October he would no longer be the volunteer bookkeeper. Howley had won a four-wheeler in a raffle sponsored by the board. Cottrell says "There were numerous complaints this was unfair or rigged, and the WV Tax department forced all the money to be returned."

Howley told The Herald all the money was returned because the center did not have a raffle license. "We followed the law," he said. "However, I was as the winner, going to take the money (about $3600) rather than the four-wheeler and donate it to the center. The minutes will show that." Howley said the center has been an enormous success story and "It is a shame there are so many problems tearing it apart." Howley was instrumental in helping the center get grant money.

Richards presented several financial statements to the group, stating "We have always used two signatures."

The Family Resource Network presented a letter to the MCC board asking for accountability of a $1000 grant for the Starting Points Project which was not launched nor was a survey completed.

Richards said Holly CreelFox did a lot of the initial work on developing the grant, but the material was turned over to Larry Cottrell. "We were waiting on Larry to get the program going," she said. She said he did not produce. Richards said some of the problem "Was an oversight on my part," and asked how to return the money to FRN.

Cottrell accused Richards of having secret meetings.

Conflict continued over whether or not Hershel Yost was an official board member. The board apparently adopted new by-laws which ask board members who resign to do so at the beginning of the meeting and new members be voted upon at the end of a meeting.

Richards said Yost was not put on the board legally. Cottrell and Jordan implied Richards did not want Yost on the board because Richards could not control him. Richards then advised she had voted for him. There was confusion about what the minutes said.

The MCC is seeking to be declared an Emergency Disaster Center where sleeping quarters, food and water can be provided. Richards spoke of Operation Help returning to the center on March 24 to deliver items of need to the community.

She announced the Third Annual Ramp Dinner to be held on April 21st and asked for volunteers to dig ramps. DHS workers will be helping with the maintenance of the center. Richards expressed concerns about sewage pond problems, the need to upgrade the water system, have additional parking and repair a leaking gym roof.

Barb Lay, CEO of MHHCC, spoke with enthusiasm about having the Minnie Hamilton Health Clinic in the center, offered to include board members in a community leadership training program. She said "You worked together to make things happen." Cottrell said the board can participate in conflict resolution training at a conference scheduled at Spring Heights in Roane County.

Considerable discussion followed regarding the renting of new space to the Calhoun County Committee On Aging, whose program is growing and the addition of a new barber and beauty shop. Confusion was expressed over some of the rental agreements with Richards stating she wanted to help these people be here for the community.

A final item on the agenda was a "compromise proposal" by board member Donna Jordan, calling for President Richards to step back for six months to allow time for resolving problems and mediation. Cottrell said he wanted to discuss issues on his agenda with Richards ruling him out of order, commenting "My personal life is none of your business." The meeting was quickly adjourned, with all parties thanking the public for attending.


Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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