Apparently a nerve was hit and swift action was taken, which is greatly appreciated and needed.

Over the years, Paintsville Tourism has been under the microscope for various reasons. There have been many allegations from many different people and groups.

In 2019, a concerned citizen requested an investigation into the spending of the board. In 2020, the investigation concluded that there were no wrong doings.

A few weeks ago when I read the story about a meeting where the new director questioned invoices and no board member could verify their creditability, I questioned why the board could not or would not openly discuss the invoices in question. I wondered why a board of qualified business people did not raise any questions about the invoices in question and why there was no discussion. I wrote a column with these questions that recently appeared in this paper.  

I wrote that the board should be reevaluated if they didn’t or would make any decisions or question large invoices. I suggested that there is someone dictating to the board and the director. I also suggested that perhaps money is changing hands because on the surface, things look fishy. I made no accusations just suggested that it was uncanny that issues like these have gone unquestioned.

While the community may have appreciated my questioning of the board, the board didn’t, and rightfully so. Jonathan Shaw, the board’s legal council told me that the board was not happy. Boards are elected or appointed to serve the entity for which they are chosen. And board members should have their finger on the pulse of the operation. I don’t think they did at that time and when asked about the open invoices, they couldn’t answer because they didn’t have enough information.

However, that didn’t preclude them from starting a conversation about mysterious invoices, which they didn’t do and that was the genesis of my comments.

After the column appeared, which is merely an opinion piece, Shaw sent me documentation confirming the validity of the invoices in question. I suggested that, in an effort to keep the board informed, each member should have a packet of information for complete review prior to the meetings so if board members have questions they can approach the director and the board with accurate information.  

According to Shaw, this has created a social media stir, understandably so. However, this newspaper reported the facts of the meeting and then we publicly asked questions that needed to be asked and answered. The board swiftly responded by supplying the proper documentation to support the expenses of the Tourism department. And at this time the answers to the issues raised appear to be satisfactory.

The social media bashing can stop now because as the watchdog of the community, we believe that, at this time all questions have been answered. That’s doesn’t mean that we will stop asking questions. It simply means that the questionable issues at this point were answered satisfactorily.

I think there is a learning opportunity where the board realizes they must be better informed and that the public knows that we are making sure tax dollars are properly spent in accordance to bylaws and statute.

We will continue to monitor this board as well as all others that handle public funds and will question anything that is of community interest.

I want to thank the board and Jonathan Shaw for swiftly responding to the questions brought up in this newspaper and going forward, we ask that issues be resolved and questioned by the board during open public meetings without having to be called out publicly.

I have a good relationship with Shaw, as he represents many public entities. And while a phone call to him may have answered the questions, it would have not made public the issues in question. I feel Shaw will continue to advise his client; the board, to be better informed and speak more openly.

If you have any comments regarding this please feel free to contact me via email or by phone. Both contact points are listed on this page.

Thanks for reading The Paintsville Herald.