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Cadiz_record
Auditor comments on loan co-signed by fiscal court
  • Updated

Trigg County Treasurer Lucy Kyler said a loan that was co-signed a few years ago by Trigg County Fiscal Court is being paid off.

But it’s not being paid by the fiscal court.

“We can consider it part of our debt, but it’s not ours to pay back,” said Kyler of the funds related to a financing agreement on the Pennyrile Area Development District building.

The funds were among several items that received comments during a state audit of the fiscal court’s financial statement for the recent fiscal year ending on June 30, 2020.

In regard to those funds, the audit noted that the court failed to report more than $7 million in outstanding debt obligations and that it failed to budget for those debt obligations.

That $7 million in debt obligations was related to Trigg County Justice Center bonds and the financing agreement on the PADD office building.

Kyler said the audit itself was a clean audit, a term the treasurer said means that all the money is accounted for and that what the fiscal court is doing is legal and substantial.

Of the $7 million, she noted that it is not missing but is “100% accounted for,” she said.

“Obviously, we’re going to try to do everything we can to take care of some of those things,” she noted of the comments.

State Auditor Mike Harmon’s office also made comments on the fiscal court’s failure to implement adequate controls over off-site collections, maintain adequate documentation to support payroll disbursements, prepare a financial statement for the public justice center corporation fund, accurately reconcile bank accounts and have adequate controls over the health reimbursement account program.

Additionally, the audit commented that the fiscal court lacked an adequate segregation of duties over receipts and financial reporting, overspent in two funds due to an unbalanced budget being presented on the fourth quarter financial report and failed to maintain adequate internal controls for alcohol beverage control receipts.

ALCOHOL RECEIPTSOf the alcohol beverage control receipts, Kyler explained that they were misplaced in a box containing receipts for the 2018-2019 audit, and she noted that auditors did contact some stores firsthand and found that “what the stores said, matched with what I said.”

References to off-site collections in the audit comments referred to money the county receives for concession sales, rentals at the Trigg County Recreation Complex and recycling fees from the local Jesse Thomas Recycling Center. Auditors noted that receipts from off-site locations are at greater risk of misappropriation; both Kyler and Trigg County Judge-Executive Hollis Alexander said multiple people are involved in collection of receipts.

Kyler noted, for example, that the recycling center’s employees record items brought into the center, a report is brought to her by Trigg County Solid Waste Coordinator Jesse Thomas, and she signs off on the report.

In his response to the audit comment, Alexander said any receipts from a source other than the mail are signed off by at least one other employee and Kyler. Receipts from the recreation complex are brought in by the complex director, and the money is counted first by the administrative assistant to confirm wha the director has brought in and again by the county treasurer. Rental receipts from the recreation complex are brought directly to Alexander’s office. Receipts are given to the person who brings the money in, and it is subsequently counted by both the administrative assistant and county treasurer.

In regard to auditor comments about payroll disbursements, Kyler noted that the county did not have properly filled-out timesheets for a few employees who were getting paid during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We didn’t know what was happening or what was coming at that time,” she said.

The judge-executive noted in his response to the audit comments that hours given to Kyler before the timesheets were presented “did not properly match up,” and he said the treasurer would ensure in the future that hours align with what managers and supervisors submit.

He also noted that some hours were altered because of COVID-19. Alexander added that the pay scale was updated this past May to ensure all employees are paid within the scale.

Among other things in regard to payroll, the state auditors noted that five out of 18 employees were compensated for hours not actually worked. One employee was paid 48 hours for each pay period in a particular month but only worked 25 hours the first pay period and none the second pay period.

Another employee was paid 50 hours for a pay period when the timesheet documented the person only worked 22 hours in that time.

THE FIRST TIMEKyler said the recent auditor’s comments was the first time the county has received any comments about payroll disbursement, and she noted in regard to a comment on the public justice center corporation fund that what she had been doing for the county’s private auditor had been sufficient.

“The auditor we had before felt like it was sufficient,” Kyler said of comments that the court maintained ledgers related to the justice center fund but did not prepare an annual financial statement.

“The county treasurer was not aware that an official financial statement was required to be prepared on the justice center fund,” auditors noted in their comments about the court.

Kyler pointed to comments about an adequate segregation of duties for receipts and financial reporting and noted that it is difficult to have everything segregated in a smaller office.

Of the PADD loan, the treasurer said Trigg County has the best bonding capacity in the Pennyrile region and was asked to help with the building project.

“They needed to borrow our bonding capacity because the PADD office is not able to do it on their own,” she said, adding that PADD gets the financial statements and makes payments on the loan on a regular basis.

Alexander also clarified in a fiscal court meeting on Monday that the court has no control over $6 million of that $7 million that is related to the justice center bonds, and he said it had never been commented on by auditors in the past.

“It’s not anything missing. It’s not anything that’s not reported there in the debt part of that,” he told the fiscal court maagistrates of the $7 million.

Kyler said the comments in the audit report essentially mean the county should do those things in a better way, and she said officials will do what they can to address some items.

Some things, like having adequate controls over the health reimbursement account program, would be difficult, she said.

“How do you know they’re spending that amount at a doctor or pharmacy?” Kyler asked, noting that she gets information on the final balances left in those accounts.

The treasurer said the state audits are beneficial for the county and residents as well, helping county officials stay on top of what they do and ensuring the public that what the office says it’s doing is what is being done.

“We want everybody to have that security that the money that’s going through that office is being taken care of,” the treasurer said.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.


Perry retires after 46 years as court employee
  • Updated

Pam Perry recalls sitting and playing cards and talking with the older men, residents of the local community, on the benches out front.

There were trees there, and when the old courthouse was torn down, it was bittersweet for Perry, who’s been an employee of the Trigg County Circuit Court for more than 46 years.

On July 30 Perry, who’s spent the last 19 or so years as circuit court clerk, will cease managing court records and will issue her last driver’s license and ID cards for the county.

She is retiring at the end of the month.

“It’s only been this year whenever I decided ‘You know, I’m going to retire,’ ” mused Perry, a Rockcastle Road resident, of her plans to spend more time with her grandson and see family and friends, some of them folks that Perry says she hasn’t seen in a long time.

At a reception on July 12 at the Cadiz Renaissance Center, Circuit Judge C.A. Woodall presented Perry with an award recognizing her more than 46 years of service in county government.

Perry thanked well-wishers for their support.

“I just appreciate everyone of y’all,” the outgoing clerk noted during the reception. “It’s been a long, long journey, and I appreciate everything y’all have always done for me.”

A crowd of supporters including current and former judges, co-workers, friends and family attended the event, which encouraged lots of conversation with Perry, offered up punch and cake and invited people to share their congratulations and personal comments on notecards provided for the occasion.

Chief Deputy Clerk Dana Cross noted that Perry is well-liked and well-respected in the community, a good person who loves people and enjoys waiting on the members of the public who frequent the circuit clerk’s office.

“She likes to greet people when they come in the office,” observed Cross, adding that Perry gets telephone calls in the morning, at noon and nighttime and will answer them all.

“I’m really going to miss her,” she said.

Cross noted that Perry does “so much” for the employees in the circuit clerk’s office, among other things, buying lunch for them when they have to work later than usual.

Perry decorates the office for Christmas, her friend recalled, and she has a sense of humor.

“You never know what funny things she’s going to say,” noted Cross, who handed out slices of cake during the recent reception.

Come Aug. 1, the day she officially begins retirement, Perry said she will miss her staff and the people who come into the office for their driver’s licenses and other reasons.

But she is excited at the prospect of retirement, she told those at the reception.

Perry started working for the circuit clerk’s office in 1975 as a deputy clerk, later becoming chief deputy clerk in the office.

She was appointed circuit clerk in 2002 by Circuit Court Judge Bill Cunningham, and campaigned in her first race for the circuit clerk position the following year, in May 2003.

Cunningham, an Eddyville native who later was elected to a seat on the Kentucky Supreme Court, was among those attending last week’s reception for Perry.

Cunningham retired in 2019.

Also on hand for the reception honoring Perry were retired District Judge Chappell Wilson, District Judges Jamus Redd and Natalie White and Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., of the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Perry’s replacement will be appointed by Woodall from a list of applicants who must pass the circuit clerk’s exam given the first week of August; the judge has 30 days to appoint someone from that pool of applicants, Perry said.

That person and possibly others will then campaign in the 2022 May election to fill the remainder of Perry’s term, which ends in 2024.

Perry and her husband Winston Perry have two children, Damon and Wesley Perry, and a grandson, Lincoln Keith Perry.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.


Cadiz_record
Tourism meeting includes talk of restrooms, new stage in downtown Cadiz
  • Updated

A portion of discussion during a recent meeting of the Cadiz-Trigg County Tourist Commission focused on the need for public restrooms in downtown Cadiz and for improvements needed for the city’s Renaissance Stage.

During the group’s meeting on July 13, Susan Bryant, one of the commissioners and a member of Cadiz City Council, brought up the matter when she noted that “the city would like to see something in the city,” Bryant said.

“All the money has been going out to the complex, and while I think the complex is well-needed and well-used, . . . the idea at the beginning was that it would kind of be divided,” Bryant shared with the other commissioners.

She said city officials are interested in having public bathrooms downtown and in repairing the Renaissance Stage, which is used during tourism events downtown.

A lack of bathrooms is a deterrent for visitors to the community who Bryant said won’t stay downtown without the restrooms, and she said she believes Parks and Recreation has a responsibility to help with the issue.

Bryant noted that it was the understanding of city officials that the city would get some benefit since the funds are collected and distributed by the city.

David Miller, a commission member who also is on the Parks and Recreation board, said he believes the bathrooms are a responsibility of tourism but not of Parks and Recreation.

LOTS OF TALK

Commission member John Oliphant said he’s heard a lot of talk about restrooms but not seen much follow-through to bring them about.

Bill Stevens, the commission’s executive director, noted that he is in favor of doing something to help with improvements to the Renaissance Stage area.

“I really think it has to be all of us working together,” he said, adding that “the Renaissance Stage has been talked about the last three years really heavily about needing replacement.”

Stevens said the city needs to take the lead, say what it wants and then bring in partners like the tourism commission and the local Parks and Recreation.

He suggested that public restrooms could be incorporated into the stage area, and he said grants might be available through the Main Street Program.

“We’ve just got to keep trying,” the director said, noting that those addressing the issue need to settle on a goal and work toward it. “We can come together and do things. So now let’s just figure out what we’re going to do next.”

Also at last week’s meeting, the director announced that the commission met recently with the Friends of Tourism, and he said the two groups have decided to move forward with a planned Glow-Cadiz Balloon Festival.

Stevens said the festival will begin at noon Nov. 6 at the runway area at Lake Barkley State Resort Airport and will feature six hot air balloons available for tethered rides.

VIEWS FROM ALOFT

“Basically, they have a rope and you just go up a certain distance, enjoy the view, then come back down,” he said.

Food trucks and other vendors will be on hand, limited seating will be available, and the Friends of Tourism will sell glow-in-the-dark merchandise at the festival.

Cost for the rides is $15 per person.

Stevens noted that 16 to 18 volunteers also are needed to help with the balloon event.

He said the tourism office, RE/MAX real estate and the county’s bicentennial committee are among those providing balloons; a gas company is donating fuel for the balloons, and Lake Barkley State Resort Park is sponsoring rooms and meals for pilots.

The director also talked about a video crew that visited the community last week from the non-profit group Lakes Region Coalition to make a 30-second video for the coalition website.

Stevens is a member of the coalition, which promotes attractions in the region.

He noted that the coalition crew filmed local attractions like Lake Barkley State Resort Park, Prizer Point, shops in Cadiz and the West Cadiz Park.

Stevens said the commission will receive one video that will be used on the coalition website and can also be used on social media sites. A second video will increase the commission’s video library, Stevens said.

He said he thinks having the videos made is a good investment for the commission. Normally costing around $3,000 to $5,000, these two videos cost $800, he said.

In other business

  • Stevens urged people who are renting vacation properties to register with the tourist commission. He said doing so offers the property owners another avenue for promoting their properties and helps visitors know of accommodations in the area besides hotels and resorts.
  • The director also noted that the commission received more than 1,800 requests in June for information about Cadiz and Trigg County.
  • He said restaurant taxes collected within the city of Cadiz for the 2021 fiscal year totaled $445,497.95, about $3,000 less than the previous fiscal year.
  • The director said the next Cadiz Cruz-In in downtown Cadiz will be Aug. 7.
  • Commission members discussed a tax refund the agency has been providing to the community’s Harper House restaurant, with Stevens noting he would check into the matter and see what the status of the refund is, given recent organizational changes. Stevens said the original agreement was for the commission to provide a 2% refund the first five years the restaurant was in business, down to a 1% refund for the second five years.
  • Stevens said Membership Director Beth Sumner of the Cadiz-Trigg County Chamber of Commerce will be moving into the office of Cindy Sholar, his recently retired administrative assistant, at the tourism office. The commission, chamber and Cadiz-Trigg County Economic Development Commission are housed in the tourism building.
  • The director said the tourism building is going to have to have repairs done to its roof again after a truck ran into the gutters and metal roof just a couple of days after the original roof repairs were finished. The damage “completely messed up what we’d just done,” Stevens told commission members.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.


Cadiz_record
Ship is dislodged from sandbar
  • Updated

Operations on Friday to dislodge a riverboat that has been grounded in Lake Barkley since July 7 were successful, noted a press release from American Cruise Lines, which operates the ship.

Officials said the American Jazz riverboat was successfully refloated in Lake Barkley on Friday and was immediately able to get underway on its own power. The riverboat, which was carrying 120 passengers and 54 crew members when it became stuck, is currently undergoing final inspections from the U.S. Coast Guard, and once completed, will continue on to Nashville, officials said.

Its next cruise departs from Nashville on July 25, according to the press release.

Representatives of American Cruise Lines expressed their thanks to everyone on the ground in Kentucky for their tireless and continued efforts to refloat American Jazz.

“The tremendous work that was done by the local companies this week has been above and beyond expectations and was key to (Friday’s) success,” the press release noted.

“American would also like to thank the U.S. Coast Guard for deploying resources, keeping the waterway safe, coordinating efforts with all the members of the local community and the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and in supporting all the companies’ that refloated American Jazz,” it continued.

Further, the cruise lines shared its appreciation for companies including DonJon Smit, Florida Marine, Luhr Bros, Moran Environmental, Three Rivers Boat Yard, Lucas Hale, and Haynes Marrs and Associates and for the commitment of a dedicated crew that it said remained aboard the ship, safely disembarked passengers and continued to work throughout the week to ready the ship for its next cruise.

The cruise lines also recognized the additional support of David Elliott, from the State of Kentucky Emergency Management Operations, Area 1; David Bryant, Trigg County emergency manager, and Paula Flood, Trigg County deputy emergency manager.

American Jazz became stuck on a sandbar last week while on a seven-night cruise between Memphis and Nashville. Passengers were moved off the ship and transported to a Nashville hotel on July 9. The ship wasn’t damaged.

American Cruise Lines had been actively engaged in a re-float plan for the ship and was working together with the US Coast Guard and its own team of marine engineers and naval architects. The cruise lines also contracted with marine recovery experts Donjon-SMIT to re-float the riverboat. Water depth soundings were being completed around the vessel.

Officials said earlier that the cause of the incident remains under investigation.

They noted that the riverboat is specifically designed to make bow landings and regularly makes bow landings along river banks in shallow water.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.


Cadiz_record
Stewart in court on Barnett death, other charges
  • Updated

A Cadiz woman who has been indicted in the death of 81-year-old Thelma Barnett will have a new court appearance before Trigg County Circuit Judge C.A. Woodall in September.

Keisha D. Stewart appeared before Woodall on July 14, when her attorney revealed a conflict in representing Stewart.

Stewart likely will have a new attorney in September.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Carrie Ovey-Wiggins said Stewart faces three separate indictments and three cases, of which the arson case involving the death of Barnett is only one.

Ovey-Wiggins said Stewart will appear before Woodall again on Sept. 8, and all of her cases will be addressed at that time.

Stewart is scheduled for three pretrial conferences at 2:15 p.m. on that date, one related to her complicity in Barnett’s death, another related to several charges of theft and the third, to the fraudulent use of a credit card.

In the case related to the death of Barnett, Stewart’s charges include complicity to arson, complicity to the abuse of a corpse, complicity to tampering with physical evidence and complicity to burglary, second degree.

Additionally, in two separate cases, Stewart is also charged with fraudulent use of a credit card under $10,000 and with two counts of theft by unlawful taking of an automobile and theft by unlawful taking of $500 or more.

A private attorney is addressing the theft charges, while her new attorney will address both the credit card charges and the arson and burglary charges related to Barnett’s death.

Barnett, who lived on Will Jackson Road in Cadiz, died on Sept. 16, 2020, at her home. The house had been set on fire, and Barnett’s body was discovered the following morning.

The medical examiner determined Barnett died of foul play.

Jonathan R. McCoy of Trigg County was indicted by the grand jury in March for multiple offenses related to Barnett’s death.

Those charges include murder, kidnapping, victim’s death, a second degree of arson, tampering with physical evidence, abuse of a corpse and burglary, first degree.

His next court date in the matter of Barnett’s death is a pretrial conference slated for 2 p.m. Oct. 13.

Additionally, McCoy has a second pretrial conference at that same time for separate charges that include tampering with physical evidence, buying and possessing drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance, first degree, first offense (methamphetamine), intent to defraud/scheme/artifice to obtain benefits greater than $10,000 and display of an illegal or altered license plate.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.


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