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Grant purchases missing in White county

Nearly $20,000 in items purchased with federal grant money are missing in White county.

BALD KNOB/RUSSELL (KATV) -

Funding for an after-school program in the small town of Russell, Arkansas was cut off a year ago.

On Thursday trucks and trailers were loaded up with items purchased to benefit kids.

But...many items are missing.

A state audit discovered questionable spending by the four women operating several after-school or out-of-school programs in White county.

A $345.00 gas grill is loaded into a box truck.

Nearby is a trailer with portable heaters, a small fridge and about a dozen bicycles.

Volunteers inventory and load items purchased with federal grant money over the past several years as part of the 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative.

Funding was cut off a year ago to three programs that served the children of White county either after school or when they were out of school. A state audit found that funds were potentially being wasted or abused by the spending practices of the women running the programs.

Named in the audit...Russell mayor and former Bald Knob teacher Renee Garr.

Bald Knob elementary school principal Tammie Cloyes and 4th grade teacher Davissa Brimer.

And Bald Knob school board member Ladonna Gibson.

One program operated at Community of Christ church...directly across from Bald Knob schools.

The church offered to let program organizers use the facility for free but they paid the church $15,000.00 anyway.

Everything purchased with grants funding this program has been recovered…with the exception of two guitars.

But in Russell nearly $20,000.00 worth of purchases were not loaded up on Thursday because they weren't there...including two 46" televisions, five digital cameras, four i-pads, four mac-books and three Stagg acoustic guitar packs.

Co-coordinators Garr and Brimer were paid $170,000.00 over a 43-month period. No timesheets or documentation was kept.

The audit also found that the relatives of the four coordinators…the husbands of Cloyes and Gibson, the daughters of Cloyes, Gibson and Brimer, and the sisters of Garr…were collectively paid over $114,000.00.

Auditors shared their findings with prosecutor Becky McCoy. She in turn contacted the State Police in November. That investigation continues.

Auditors also advised the Arkansas Department of Education to improve its monitoring of grant recipients.

Air date: April 12th, 2018

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