The recent revelation of misappropriated money from Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County and Starke County Tourism has caused embarrassment to members of several interlocking boards, and consternation on the part of county government officials. Those government officials expressed anger and frustration at this week’s Starke County Council meeting.
The Board of Directors of Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County met in Executive Session this week. According to Board President Judy Jelinek, the board will be meeting in an open session Wednesday, February 22nd, and will discuss the appointment of a financial committee and a personnel matter.
The appointment of a financial committee will be new for the organization as financial matters were handled by the state in the past. Quarterly reports were sent to the state by the local organization.
The regular meeting of Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County was held Wednesday and produced no action on the status of Jennie Carter as Coalition Coordinator of Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County. The President of Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County, Judy Jelinek, said no action could have been taken as the lack of a quorum prohibited the Board to conduct business.
Another meeting has been scheduled for 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, February 15th at the Girl Scout Cabin in Knox. Carter is still the Coordinator, and Jelinek said that the executive session is scheduled to discuss personnel matters. A yet to be announced open meeting for the public and press will be held after the executive session. No time or location has been announced for that public meeting.
In an effort to explain how the embezzlement of $7,140 could go undetected for almost a year, the Starke County Tourism Board issued a timeline and statement yesterday in the Jennie Carter case.
According to the timeline, Carter, Coordinator of the Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County organization, wrote a check for that amount of money on March 21st, 2011 to the Drug Free organization. She claimed it was for money owed to the Indiana Department of Revenue in taxes. Cosigning with Carter was the Tourism Board President, Rich Wieczorek, who is not suspected of wrongdoing. The check was cashed by Carter, who took possession of the money.
The Starke County Commissioners emerged from an Executive Session yesterday to announce financial improprieties involving taxpayer money by Jennie Carter. Carter is the Coalition Coordinator for Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County.
According to County Attorney Martin Lucas, the commissioners came to the conclusion that Carter committed financial improprieties by transferring funds from the Convention and Visitors Board to the Tourism Board.
Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County recently awarded $18,000 in grants from the Drug Free Starke County Fund. Grants were awarded in three categories: Prevention, Treatment and Justice.
The recipients include North Judson-San Pierre Middle School and High School, City of Knox for National Night Out, TAR WARS “Beware of Tobacco”, Knox Middle School for two programs, Porter-Starke Services for the Prime for Life Program, and Starke County Probation for the Substance Abuse Evaluation Supplementation program. The Knox City Police Department received a thermal imager and money for drug and evidence lockup.
Knox Mayor, Rick Chambers, told the Council that he had some questions for City Attorney, David Matsey, about the enforceability of this ordinance. Matsey was not present at the meeting but Mayor Chambers voiced his concerns to the Council members. Mayor Chambers questioned whether specific tests are available to test the product to ensure it contains the ingredients that classify it as synthetic marijuana. If there is a test available, who is authorized to conduct the test? Do Indiana State Police labs have equipment available to test the product? Jennie Carter from Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County informed the City Council that she will get answers for those questions and have them available by the next City Council meeting. The third and final reading of this ordinance is expected to be made at the Council’s December 14th meeting.