Cumberland Times-News

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March 13, 2013

Mineral officials hope to prevent future monetary missteps

KEYSER, W.Va. — Mineral County commissioners discussed corrective actions for the fiscal 2011/2012 audit findings during their public meeting Wednesday, but County Coordinator Mike Bland stressed that the commissioners had no control over the accounts in which the state auditor found that expenditures were used improperly.

The audit revealed that improper purchases were made from the sheriff’s concealed weapons account and that there were expenditures without proper documentation. The audit findings also reported issues with the conservator fees and conservator accounts.

All the accounts were under the direct supervision of former Sheriff Craig Fraley and are not general operating accounts of the county. Repeated attempts by the Times-News to contact Fraley have been unsuccessful.

“They (the accounts) don’t require the same level of review. When we have a coal severance or general fund expenditure it actually requires the signature of the president of the county commission, county clerk and sheriff. Conservator accounts and concealed weapons are under the full authority of the sheriff,” said Bland. “They are not generally reviewed by the commission, the clerk’s office or myself. It’s not an indication of issues with other accounts.”

The findings of noncompliance disclosed in the state audit have been given to Mineral County Prosecuting Attorney Jay Courrier for further action.

The issues of noncompliance occurred during Fraley’s term, which ended Dec. 31. Sally Martin of the state auditor’s office spoke with current Sheriff Jeremy Taylor and was told he will develop policies and procedures to keep the incidents of noncompliance from occurring again. Taylor will also prepare annual accounting for each conservator account for which he has been appointed in accordance with the West Virginia code.

The money from the conservator fees went directly to Fraley, according to Martin. The conservator fees have been reviewed by Taylor and, “will not happen in the future,” states the review.

“The auditor’s recommendation for the sheriff (Fraley) at the time of the finding will be required to pay into the county treasury the amount of $1,423.56; it has been given to the Prosecuting Attorney for collection,” states the review.

Also during the meeting, the commissioners approved the appointments of Leon Hinkle, with a term expiring 2015, and Bill Smith IV, with a term expiring in 2014, to the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority. Hinkle and Smith will fill former chairman Max White and authority member Terry Malone’s positions.

“I have a sincere interest in seeing the Cumberland airport operate in legal, professional, courteous manner, as well as be one of the model businesses for the tri-state area. My goal for the airport is to achieve outstanding status,” wrote Hinkle, who has been a pilot since 1970, in his letter of interest.

Commission president Janice LaRue said Hinkle’s resume is “outstanding.”

“I would like to assist in keeping the airport facility operating, providing employment, unlike the many companies that have folded in our area,” wrotes Smith in his letter of interest.

As a hobby, he is involved in the fly-ins and autocross, Smith said.

“I know that Mr. Smith will make an excellent member (of the authority),” said LaRue.

Hinkle and Smith are they only two who submitted letters of interest for the appointment.

The commissioners also agreed to send a letter to Keyser City Council stating that they are ready to begin discussing land negotiations for the city to obtain the clay tennis courts on Fort Ashby Road located just off state Route 46 for a proposed baseball field.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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