, Corbin, KY

January 14, 2014

Thompson drops off as voting member of B’ville board

Action comes after Tourism Commission issues found in state auditor’s findings, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer

Barbourville Mayor David Thompson announced in a letter Monday he would no longer be a voting member of the city’s tourism commission.

Word of that decision was released to the Barbourville Tourist and Recreation Commission during their regular board meeting.

The letter was received by the commission’s board chair, Carolyn Valentine.

Thompson said he would stay on as a non-voting member.

“I’d like to apologize. It’s not pointed at Tourism. It’s against me by half of City Council. Now we have to deal with it,” he told Tourism board members at the session held at the commission’s Visitor Center.

Valentine also formed a committee made up of tourist board members Charlie Frazier, Len Taylor and Randell Young to — as she put it — “quickly respond to Frankfort,” and to review the groups’ bylaws.

That meeting will be held at 3 p.m. Monday, Jan 20, at the Visitor Center. The reappointing of some tourism board members will also take place at that time.

The actions come on the heels of what Valentine called “several findings that we need to address.”

Those findings came from a report last Tuesday by State Auditor Adam Edelen.

His report cited a special state examination of the City of Barbourville, which found “lax controls and oversight” resulting in “financial mismanagement and abuses.”

The audit, which looked at certain financial activities from July 1, 2007, through Aug. 31, 2013, outlined 26 problems with how the city conducted its business.

Among them pertaining to the tourism commission, Edelen found:

—The mayor serves on the recreation board and the tourism commission, which is against the law.

—The tourism commission failed to adequately oversee the repairs and remodel of the H.H. Owens Home.

—The tourism commission awarded the highest bidder a contract in its purchase of decorative aluminum fencing for the Civil War Interpretive Park without justifying the rejection of the low bid.

—The tourism commission lacks adequate segregation of duties such as opening mail, preparing deposits and preparing financial statements — although the report noted no record keeping errors.

The audit began last summer after five of six city council members sent a letter to the auditor’s office in March, requesting the audit.

In other actions at the regular monthly session, board members approved the financial report for December 2013, as well as the minutes of the Dec. 16 regular meeting.

Tourist Commission Director Denise Wainscott said a partnership was being formed between the Barbourville board and the Main Street Program in Middlesboro.

It would deal with what she called the “Middlesboro to Barbourville Economic and Arts Initiative.”

“We have a good arts program and Middlesboro is starting to get a strong Main Street program. We’re going to see more arts and economic partnerships in rural communities.”

She added a follow-up to the board’s Christmas program last month, and some planning and work on the city’s Main Street, would take place at 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the Knox County Public Library.

Wainscott said Barbourville Tourism’s new website is close to being finished. She also reminded board members that the city would be featured on the KET television series “Kentucky Life,” this Saturday at 8 p.m.

The next regular meeting for the board is set for 2 p.m. Monday, Feb 10.