Maryland Theatre denied funds

August 05, 1997


Staff Writer

The Washington County Gaming Commission passed over The Maryland Theatre again Monday when it doled out $1.07 million in tip jar money to local fire and rescue companies and charities.

Commission Chairwoman Sue Tuckwell said the theater failed to provide detailed financial information sought by the agency to justify the theater's $130,000 funding request.

"That's not true," said theater President Patricia Wolford.

"We gave them everything they asked for. We justified every dime. We gave them every piece of paper I could possibly find in this office to give them."


Wolford said Tuckwell was being vindictive and had a conflict of interest because she was the president of The Maryland Theatre when it took out a $250,000 mortgage to cover a financial crisis in 1994. Wolford had sought $130,000 from the commission to wipe out the remaining debt.

Wolford said Tuckwell shared responsibility for the decisions that resulted in the debts.

"I think that Sue Tuckwell should not have voted or made any statement in any regard. I feel like it was a real conflict of interest for her to even deal with this request," Wolford said.

Tuckwell said it would be silly for her to remove herself from making decisions about every organization that she has been a part of - that would total more than a dozen nonprofits in Washington County, including the United Way. Tuckwell said there was no conflict of interest because she no longer is affiliated with the theater.

Tuckwell also said withholding the funding was a unanimous decision by the seven-member commission.

"On a personal level, it pains me that The Maryland Theatre is in the situation and condition it is now in because I spent untold hours trying to bail it out. Contrary to what Mrs. Wolford believes or states, I did not incur the debt. I inherited the debt and I bailed the theater out by securing a mortgage," Tuckwell said.

Wolford said she would see if there was any way to appeal the decision and had no indication prior to Monday that the commission wasn't satisfied.

"I'm so angry. You can't imagine how angry I am," Wolford said. "Supposedly, everything was fine. To have a statement like this, it just floors me."

But Tuckwell said the commission was clear. "It shouldn't be pulling teeth to get a monthly financial statement, I'm sorry," she said.

Tuckwell said the theater was given several opportunities after the deadline for applications expired May 30 to provide the information.

Wolford said she felt that the theater was being singled out because other organizations weren't asked to submit the same financial records.

"When an organization asks for $130,000, they ought to be held to a higher standard," Tuckwell said.

The theater also was turned down in January on grounds that the theater hadn't provided the most up-to-date financial information, a claim Wolford also denies.

Wolford said the theater has paid off $10,000 of the $132,000, 9 percent interest loan with Bulldog Federal Credit Union, and has asked that the loan payment due in September be extended to December.

Wolford said if the commission had covered the debt, the theater probably could have put on another show a month.

"This poor little theater - it's the way life is I suppose; you fight one battle then another one," she said.

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