Probe Hancock Parks Board

Clearly, a thorough investigation of the Hancock County Parks and Recreation Board is appropriate, in the wake of a review by the West Virginia State Auditor’s office. The report on the four-year audit showed it could not account for tens of thousands of dollars in payroll, marina and vendor expenses and said there were 11 areas in which the board was deficient.

Worse, the auditor’s office reported its work was slowed by a lack of proper records such as receipts, financial statements, meeting minutes, and written policies and procedures. Auditors were so concerned by the state of the parks and recreation board that they submitted a special report to Hancock County Prosecutor Jim Davis.

A reorganized board appears to be doing its best to clean up the situation and cooperate with Hancock County commissioners. But it is operating with a few holes, as Catherine Colabrese resigned in April and Albert Jesse Mestrovic III has submitted his resignation. Former board President Keith English was on the payroll as general manager of Kennedy Marina and Campground in Newell, but has been relieved of his duties.

Among the findings of the audit, “Board officials failed to establish and enforce policies and procedures governing revenue receipts for goods and services provided at Kennedy Marina. Transactions are not properly recorded, and control over collections is compromised.”

In fact, the report could not account for more than $31,000 in Kennedy Marina revenues between 2009 and 2012 – the revenue was recorded in the receipt system but could not be traced to cash deposited in the bank.

“That was then, that was those people,” commented new board President Thomas Keller.

Again, he is correct in pointing out new members of the board are trying to clean things up. But as prosecutors take a look at the auditors’ report, they should be prepared to leave no stone unturned in determining whether the law was broken by Parks and Recreation Board members in the past.