The chairman of the board of directors for YVEDDI has resigned effective immediately.
“I do not want my resignation to be taken as an assumption of problems within our agency,” said Jack G. Koontz, chairman of the YVEDDI Board of Directors. “We had an issue, and it was dealt with properly. I deeply love and believe in the organization … and believe it’s in the best interest to resign at this time and hopefully promote a more harmonious relationship among factions of the board and the county commissions who are affiliated.”
Koontz stated that he believes by stepping down it will make things run smoother for YVEDDI, an agency finding itself at risk of losing the support of Surry County Commissioners. YVEDDI is a non-profit corporation operating a variety of senior citizen, preschool and transportation program.
“This resignation gives someone else an opportunity to run the organization, hopefully someone younger,” said Koontz.”I understand how it works. I just want things to get better.”
His resignation follows Monday’s Surry County Board of Commissioners meeting, when Commissioner Paul Johnson said he didn’t want to be involved with YVEDDI any longer.
According to Tribune sister paper The Mount Airy News, a discussion of YVEDDI wasn’t on the agenda at the Surry Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, but emerged during a part of the meeting when individual commissioners could make general comments or announcements.
During Monday’s meeting, Commissioner Paul Johnson said that he was asked to provide an update on committees he serves on. On YVEDDI, the commissioner indicated that things aren’t going as they should and that funds controlled by YVEDDI recently have been misused, which led to the agency’s former director’s departure.
“I really don’t want to be a part of that anymore,” he said during the meeting. “I think it’s time for Surry County to take a new look at YVEDDI.”
The impromptu comments by Commissioner Johnson prompted YVEDDI officials to release a response to Johnson’s comments.
The YVEDDI release stated that while Johnson has been a member of the YVEDDI board for 15 years, he sent an alternate in his place for 13 years and did not begin attending board meetings regularly until June 2011.
The YVEDDI release said that it has not received an official notification of Johnson’s resignation, nor has he voiced any concerns to his fellow YVEDDI board members. YVEDDI stated that Commissioner R.F. “Buck” Golding submitted his resignation via email prior to the April meeting, citing business and personal scheduling conflicts.
“I didn’t attend every meeting, but when I didn’t attend my alternate did go,” said Commissioner Johnson during a telephone interview prior to when Koontz announced his resignation. “I did the same thing that other commissioners on the board from other counties had to do. We have to make lots of other meetings, but I’ve always been informed and updated.”
Commissioner Johnson also clarified that he did not resign from YVEDDI, and he disclosed that it is his intention to resign once Surry County has the ability to provide equal or better services currently provided by YVEDDI.
The vacancy by Commissioner Golding provides an opportunity for the appointment of a new commissioner from Surry to serve on the YVEDDI board.
“We’re not going to fill the vacancy,” said Commissioner Johnson. “That’s my understanding of it.”
Koontz, who represented Davie County on the board, said, “First, you can’t paint a picture of YVEDDI and the great work the organization does with a broad brush. We have done a tremendous service and have a stellar record since 1965.”
“Now we admit, we’ve had a former director who we discovered was doing things that were not so kosher. I found out about the alleged problems in October about 8 minutes before a board meeting. Within 45 minutes of the meeting, the director was placed on administrative leave,” said Koontz.
“I brought the matter to the attention of YVEDDI two years ago,” said Commissioner Johnson. “Nothing was done about it.”
Johnson alleges that the meeting took place with Commissioner Golding, Jack Koontz and Mike Crause, whereas the concerns relating to the former director were presented and discussed.
“Follow the chain of emails,” suggested Commissioner Johnson.
Commissioner Johnson said that seven commissioners on the board in October had done their homework and instructed Koontz that if he did not initiate an action to start correcting the matter that counties would withdraw from YVEDDI.
“That’s why I’m so upset. That’s what happened here,” stated Commissioner Johnson. “We could have avoided the problems YVEDDI is facing if ‘Jack’ wasn’t in denial.”
Noelle Talley, public information officer with the North Carolina Department of Justice, confirmed that Yadkin County District Attorney Tom Horner turned the investigation over to the State Burea of Investigations (SBI) in late 2012. She confirms that Danny Haire, former YVEDDI executive director, is the subject of that investigation and that the investigation is on allegations of embezzlement. The investigation is still open as of May 8.
Koontz said that the board opted to turn the personnel matter over to the SBI, and right now it’s a matter clearly up to them and the District Attorney. He said he doesn’t know what the commissioner had been expecting.
Koontz said YVEDDI has moved beyond the incident and just advertised this week for a new director, a position that pays more than $70,000 annually.
Koontz stated that it has taken six months to advertise for a replacement, but that the process takes time and is not a lack of board management.
“I’m a volunteer,” Koontz said before resigning. “We’re all volunteers. We’ve taken steps immediately after the director resignation. We also have an acting director.”
“The personnel matter was a problem. It was identified. We fixed it. We own up to it,” said Koontz.
“Our agency is transparent, operates quality programs and we are proud of what we are doing,” Koontz added. “Our programs are audited regularly by various funding sources and by independent auditors.”
Commissioner Johnson said it was too late and that the county manager has already been asked to look for steps needed for Surry to withdraw from YVEDDI.
Kevin Austin, Yadkin County commissioner chairman and YVEDDI board member, said that Yadkin County Board of Commissioners has not discussed withdrawing funding for YVEDDI from the Yadkin County FY 2013-14 budget.
“Our concern through all of this has been that Yadkin citizens continue to receive the services they need, and the YVEDDI staff have made sure that has happened,” Austin said. “Yes, there are board structure issues which need to be addressed caused by the complexity of the multiple programs that YVEDDI administers. My suggestion has been for Head Start to have its own board, and possibly Yadkin Valley Transportation as well.”
Commissioner Eddie Harris, chairman of the Surry Board of Commissioners was the first to react to Mr. Koontz resignation stating it was unexpected and caught him off guard.
“Obviously, I commend Jack for his service at YVEDDI over the many years. I know he believed in its mission. Surry County is going to have some ongoing discussions with the new YVEDDI board chair and its members. We will look at all options for our residents.”
Commissioner Harris disclosed conversations with Kathy Payne, interim executive director for YVEDDI, and said the conversations were cordial, professional, and he intends to move forward in the best way possible to remedy the YVEDDI situation facing the 4 involved counties.
“The door is open in Surry County to YVEDDI,” said Commissioner Harris. We will include YVEDDI and Payne and other counties involved in our future discussions.
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