Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

June 19, 2014

TMSA’s Haley takes interim chamber helm

TAHLEQUAH — Tahlequah Main Street Director Drew Haley will assume temporary leadership of the Chamber of Commerce after a board vote Wednesday evening.

Haley was unanimously approved as the interim executive director of the chamber, which is at the center of a local and state investigation into allegations of embezzlement.

Former Executive Director David Moore quit his post a week ago as the accusations became public. He provided no reason for stepping down, board members said.

Moore called in sick the entire week prior to his resignation. His cell phone has been disconnected, and his Facebook page has been removed. His Twitter account remains online but hasn’t been active since the last week of May.

According to chamber board members, Haley will be paid 25 percent of his Tahlequah Main Street salary to act as interim director of the chamber.

Board members met behind closed doors for less than an hour before picking Haley.

The board was also set to discuss changing the chamber’s bank accounts, but members tabled action until their next meeting. The decision not to take immediate action shocked several chamber members who were attending the meeting.

Board member Isabel Baker suggested the decision gives the board more time to “check with several banks,” which prompted several chamber members  in the audience to ask why the board didn’t arrive prepared.

After the meeting, board members told the Daily Press their decision not to change bank accounts was also made because of the ongoing criminal probe, which  is focused on existing bank accounts.

Board President Stanley Young said Moore no longer has access to the chamber’s accounts.

Board members also confirmed that all employees of the chamber and all board members who are authorized to sign checks are covered by an insurance policy, or bond, as ordered by chamber bylaws. Those regulations indicate two of three people – the executive director, the treasurer and the president – are supposed to sign all checks, or another board member can be appointed to be the second signator.

Other members of the board are not covered by the policy, Young said.

Before Wednesday’s meeting, Young issued a written statement on behalf of the board.

“As a volunteer board, the Tahlequah Chamber of Commerce relied heavily on the professional staff who we trusted for many years to properly follow the appropriate rules, policies and procedures,” his statement read. “That trust has apparently been violated and we will, of course, fully cooperate with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and other appropriate authorities to address the issues that are before us. We will not make any additional public comments regarding the ongoing investigation until it concludes.

“Moving forward, the chamber will do everything necessary to ensure that we provide the level of service and transparency that the Tahlequah community expects and deserves.”

The OSBI has suggested its probe could take several months. Its final report will be submitted to the District Attorney’s Office.

According to letters obtained by the Daily Press, accusations were made to Tourism Council board members that the medical and dental insurance for Tourism Director Kate Kelly had been allowed to lapse. The allegations spurred city officials to request audits of the chamber and tourism council, and led to the chamber requesting a criminal investigation into potential embezzlement of funds.

Kelly is on paid administrative leave and has declined comment.

Since news of the possible mismanagement of funds broke, a number of chamber members have emailed or called the Daily Press, expressing concern about their annual dues and proceeds from the city’s hotel-motel tax, which is reportedly a key area of scrutiny for the OSBI. Several chamber members have suggested the chamber board, or at least the executive committee, should resign.

jnewton@tahlequahdailypress.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ts-NSU-MAIN.jpg Fledgling RiverHawks arrive

    Over 200 incoming freshmen took part in orientation class at Northeastern State University

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-TCP-jump.jpg Tahlequah Community Playhouse revving up for new season

    Tahlequah Community Playhouse is kicking of its 41st season with a nod to friendship and aging.
    TCP finished auditions for its first play of the season, “The Dixie Swim Club,” on Tuesday.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Infant mortality dropping in county

    When a mom-to-be is expecting a healthy, happy baby, every week of pregnancy is crucial.
    Short gestation, or premature births, is a leading cause of infant mortality. Any child born before reaching 37 weeks of gestation is considered premature.

    July 23, 2014

  • Board considers combining tourism, chamber positions

    Members of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the local Tourism Council are discussing the possibility of combining two jobs into one.
    Chamber President Steve Turner encouraged board members Tuesday morning to be prepared next month to decide how it will begin a search for a new executive director.

    July 23, 2014

  • New chamber board members nominated

    Three new board members will likely be installed during the regular August meeting of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce.

    July 23, 2014

  • ts-camp-cherokee-main.jpg Camp Cherokee

    About 500 area youth attending popular camp for tribal citizens.

    In reality, two camps are taking place at the Camp Heart ‘o the Hills: a day camp for children in first through sixth grades, and a residential camp for those in middle and high school.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • leatherman-chad.jpg Man gets 20 years for robbing local Walgreens store

    A Tahlequah man accused of robbing a local Walgreens this year has received a 20-year sentence.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-orphan-train.jpg ‘Orphan Train’ authors visit Tahlequah

    Imagine, for a moment, being a child whose parents could not care for him, and the only alternative was to ride the rails across the country, hoping to find a new family and home.
    For local resident Peggy Kaney’s grandfather, this scenario was a reality.
    Alison Moore and Phil Lancaster shared the stories of over 200,000 children taken from New York City and then given away to families in western states from 1854 to 1929, at the Tahlequah Public Library on July 17.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • City council gives family deadline to rehab property

    Tahlequah’s city council is giving a family with local ties a little more than a month to develop and submit rehabilitation plans for two pieces of property containing six dilapidated structures in the 400 block of Lee Street.
    Members of the city’s abatement board recommended the homes be demolished, according to Tahlequah Building Inspector Mark Secratt. City officials then sent a certified notice as required by law, but the letter was returned.

    July 22, 2014

  • Man ‘howling like dog,’ arrested for APC

    When a Kentucky man pulled into an area convenience store over the weekend and began “barking and howling like a dog,” sheriff’s deputies checked on him and eventually hauled him to jail on alcohol-related charges, an arrest report shows.

    July 22, 2014

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast
Stocks