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.


Text Only
Local News
  • svw-Hepatitis.jpg Hepatitis vaccinations important today

    The phrase “back to school” may be disdained by kids for many reasons, including a trip to the doctor’s office to update immunizations.
    But hepatitis cases in Oklahoma provide a good example of why these vaccinations are important.
    “There was a time when Hepatitis A was just crazy in Oklahoma. The state was actually known for it,” said Becky Coffman, an epidemiologist with the Oklahoma Health Department’s Acute Disease Service.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • hood-raymond.jpg One man caught, another sought after foot chase

    Two people tried to escape sheriff’s deputies, and one was successful, after a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 62 last weekend.
    Deputy Bryan Qualls was on the highway when he noticed a red Chevrolet Avalanche matching the description of a truck that had been spotted at the scene of a recent burglary.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Detectives investigate deaths of two elderly residents

    Incident may be murder-suicide

    Tahlequah police detectives believe the deaths of two elderly Cherokee County residents are part of a murder-suicide that took place July 24-25.

    July 29, 2014

  • ts-Tax-free-main.jpg Shopper's delight

    Tax-free weekend coming up Aug. 1-3, just in time for back-to-school savings

    Attention, shoppers: Oklahoma’s Tax-Free Weekend is coming up, beginning at 12:01 a.m., Friday, Aug. 1.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • ballard-amanda.jpg Woman pleads no contest to molestation

    A Tahlequah woman accused of having more than 20 sexual encounters with a 13-year-old boy has pleaded no contest in exchange for a 15-year prison sentence, though 10 years have been suspended.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-arch-society.jpg Archaeologist: Spiro Mounds may have been ancient music haven

    People gathered from across the country at the “center of the universe,” bringing with them different styles of music and instruments, each thought to have its own power and importance.
    This could be the description of a modern music festival, but to Jim Rees, it is a picture of the Spiro Mounds 1,000 years before Columbus came to the Americas.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Two headed for trial for conspiracy to kill judge and others

    Two of the four people accused of conspiring to kill a Cherokee County judge and several other targets were bound over for trial Friday following a preliminary hearing in Tahlequah.

    July 28, 2014

  • Woman accused in embezzlement sought for arrest

    Court officials have issued a bench warrant for a woman who previously pleaded to embezzling more than $40,000 while she worked for Tahlequah attorney Park Medearis.

    July 28, 2014

  • CN, UKB battle over trust land application

    Two Tahlequah-based tribes presented oral arguments Friday in a protracted fight over a land-in-trust application.

    Over the course of five hours, attorneys for the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee Nation Entertainment and the Department of the Interior made their cases before Northern District Judge Gregory Frizzell in a hearing that was originally scheduled for February.


    July 25, 2014

  • ts-NSU-Main-1-a.jpg No NSU pool, for now

    NSU experiencing delays in fitness center construction

    Earlier this month, Northeastern State University announced it is experiencing delays in the renovation of its fitness center and pool.
    The facility was officially shuttered Sept. 17, 2012, and at the time, the projected completion date for renovation was this fall.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos


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

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating