Bedford County Public Funds Used To Buy Questionable Items, Report Says

Monday, April 1, 2013

Nearly $47,000 of Bedford County Emergency Communications District funds were spent to buy brand name clothing, expensive meals and other questionable items over a period spanning more than six years.

That was one of the key findings in an audit released today by the comptroller’s division of the local government audit. The Bedford County Emergency Communications District receives 911 fees collected from telephone bills to provide enhanced 911 emergency telephone service for the area it serves.

While the district’s former director claimed the clothing purchases were for employee uniforms, receipts show that items were purchased from Eddie Bauer, The Gap, Cabelas, Dillard’s and several small specialty stores.

The former director also charged numerous meals to the district’s credit cards in situations in which there was no documentation that she was traveling overnight on business. Examples of these charges included an $84.84 tab at J.Alexander’s restaurant in Franklin and a $40.03 tab at Toot’s in Murfreesboro. In addition, meals were purchased by the former director while on overnight travel status even though she had already received a travel advance which included meals and incidentals.

There was also little or no documentation to verify other purchases the former director made were for business-related purposes, including a bag purchased at a Coach store in Pigeon Forge, two iPods, two Nooks and a Bosch Pro Drill. The bag, the drill, one iPod and one Nook have not been returned to the district.

The audit also identified several other problems:

· The former director, board members and employees routinely received travel advances without filing follow-up expense reports to document how the travel advances were spent.

· Employees were sometimes reimbursed for meals when they were not traveling and for personal vehicle mileage expenses when they were traveling in district-owned cars.

· Cell phones issued to district employees appeared to be used for personal purposes based on usage charges for downloads, pix/flix messaging, and hot spot service.

· The district also purchased some goods and services without putting them out for competitive bids, including a new SUV and heating, ventilation and cooling upgrades to the district’s communications center.

“Whether money is collected through taxes or surcharges on telephone bills, it is still public money and should be spent only for purposes that benefit the public,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “Many of the expenditures outlined in this report simply should not have occurred. The district’s board of directors needs to do a better job of oversight to prevent these types of issues from cropping up again in the future.”

To view the report online, go to:http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/la/


Kendric Evans, 20, Shot On Lyerly Street

Police said 20-year-old Kendric Evans was shot on Lyerly Street late Sunday afternoon.   At 5:11 p.m., Chattanooga Police responded to a local hospital concerning a person who had been shot.   The victim arrived at the hospital suffering from a gunshot wound which was non-life threatening. The victim did not identify the suspect or how he had arrived at ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Women's March In Chattanooga Draws Large Crowd

Several thousand people took part in Chattanooga Women's March (click for more)

Proud Of Chattanooga And The Women's March

I was very happy to participate in the Women’s March on Chattanooga yesterday afternoon. The diversity and the sheer numbers of women, men and children were incredible. One estimate was at least 3,000. Standing together with all of these like-minded souls was overwhelming and humbling.  I have rarely been so happy and so proud of my town.  One question is, why is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Jumoke’s Thuggery Ends

Jumoke Johnson, the most notorious criminal in Chattanooga’s recent history, was killed by a rain of bullets in the 2100 block of East 12 th Street at little after 8 o’clock Friday night and for the many of us who have kept up with the 23-year-old, you wonder how he ever lasted this long. He was aptly proclaimed as the “most dangerous man” to ever have been sentenced in Chattanooga’s ... (click for more)

Tullahoma Nips East Hamilton For Central Mat Title

The annual Central Invitational wrestling tournament was cancelled two weeks ago by the threat of inclement weather, but they were able to get it in on Saturday and it was a battle to the wire for the team championship. Luke Champion was the individual winner at 285 pounds and it was his victory that lifted the Tullahoma Wildcats to the team title as they finished the day-long ... (click for more)

Father Ryan Rallies To Beat Soddy Daisy

The Soddy Daisy Trojans may have been embarrassed over a lopsided whipping they took at the hands of the Bradley Bears Thursday night in Cleveland, but they came out with fire in their eyes Friday night in a dual meet with Father Ryan. The host Trojans had a seemingly-comfortable 32-22 lead with three matches remaining, but the Purple Irish won all three -- including two with ... (click for more)