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Comptroller Investigation Finds Fmr. Overton Co. PTO President Stole $10 K

Press release from the Office of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury; February 12, 2015:

A special investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury has found that Tara Scott, the former president of the Hilham Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization, stole at least $10,465 from the PTO. This investigation was completed in conjunction with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

During the period August 2012 through February 2014, Tara Scott failed to deposit concession cash collections totaling $5,520. The money was collected during volleyball and basketball games.

Ms. Scott told investigators she took collections home with her and placed them in a locked cash box under her bed. Ms. Scott said each time she retrieved the cash box in preparation for the next game, she noticed the box was empty. Ms. Scott claims the money was stolen again and again over a period of nearly two years. Tara Scott never alerted anyone to the missing funds, and she did not stop the repeated thefts.

Investigators also discovered that Tara Scott wrote PTO checks totaling $4,945 payable to herself or to “cash.” Ms. Scott admitted she used the proceeds for her personal benefit.

On February 2, 2015, Tara Scott and her husband, Lonnie Scott, were each indicted by the Overton County Grand Jury on one count of theft over $10,000.

“Parents play a vital role in their child’s education, and I commend honest parents who volunteer in Tennessee school groups,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “Unfortunately, there are people who will use their positions to steal money. Simple checks and balances can help prevent theft.”

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

Haslam Announces More Than $730K in Grants for Overton Co

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; July 22, 2014:

LIVINGSTON – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced three grants totaling more than $730,000 to enhance the public square and create a new two-acre park in Livingston and to improve the Hanging Limb Recreation Center in Overton County.

“We want Tennessee to continue to be the very best place to live, work and raise a family, and projects like these are key to making that a reality,” Haslam said. “Making downtown areas more inviting and accessible and enhancing our parks and recreation areas improve the lives of Tennesseans.”

A $450,953 transportation alternative grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will fund the Public Square Enhancements Project located near the historic Overton County Courthouse in downtown Livingston. The project includes the addition of decorative crosswalks at each of the square’s four corners and the replacement of sidewalks and handicap ramps. Once complete, the project will link the courthouse to other public buildings, local businesses and a future park and amphitheater.

The transportation alternative grant is made possible through a federally funded program formerly known as transportation enhancement and is administered by TDOT. A variety of activities, such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects, are eligible for grant funds under the federal program.

“Through these grants, TDOT has funded more than $306 million in non-traditional transportation projects,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said. “This program has assisted communities all over the state in their efforts to revitalize downtowns, highlight historic areas, provide alternative means of transportation, and increase opportunities for economic development.”

Overton County is receiving two Local Park and Recreation Fund (LPRF) grants from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

A $250,000 LPRF grant will be used to create a new two-acre park in Livingston with a playground, splash pad, restroom facility, parking lot, vendor area, walking path, decorative lighting and fencing, picnic tables and benches.

A $32,000 LPRF grant will be used to improve the Hanging Limb Recreation Center, including building a basketball court, replacing a seesaw and merry-go-round, installing ADA-compliant surfacing throughout the playground area and constructing ADA-compliant parking and paths connecting various activities as well as ADA-compliant picnic tables and charcoal grills.

The LPRF is a 23-year old state program that provides local governments with resources to support development and improvements to local parks, greenways, trails and recreational facilities. Grant recipients were selected through competitive scoring with careful consideration given to the projects that met the selection criteria and expressed the greatest local recreation need. All LPRF grants require a 50 percent match by the recipient.

“From land acquisitions for new municipal parks to renovating and improving existing facilities, these grants help expand recreational opportunities for Tennessee citizens,” TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau said. “We are excited to work with each of these grantees and to see the future of these projects for this community.”

Sen. Charlotte Burks (D-Monterey) and Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston) represent Overton County in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Overton Officials Postpone Action On Anti-Nepotism Policy

Overton County commissioners hemmed and hawed over a proposal to prohibit the hiring of family members, but failed to pass it earlier this week, the Overton County News reports.

Among the commissioners’ concerns: whether the anti-nepotism policy had been explained to other elected county officials, how it would be enforced, and whether in a small, rural community the measure was practical.

“Overton County is a small county, and you know, 70 percent of Overton County is related, to some extent,” Commissioner Darwin Clark said during the Monday meeting. “I can see how this could apply to a larger population.”

Commissioner Ben Danner questioned enforcement of the measure: “Who would police it? I mean, are we going to have to look through every single applicant to see if they’re a cousin to somebody that’s in an office. … I don’t understand how we would.”

The proposal would prohibit supervisors from hiring relatives – which would include in-laws and step-children – and would cover the county agencies as well as “any office that receives total or partial funding” from the county, according to the News. The commissioners tabled the measure.