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Region 9 moving forward, director claims

November 13, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The interim executive director of the Region 9 Planning and Development Council said Wednesday that the agency has paid all of its outstanding debts, has hired two new employees and is moving forward with future plans.

Nearly $53,000 was paid to the IRS, the state's retirement board, workers compensation and the state Tax Department, Bob Gordon said.

"Everything is up to date," Gordon said. "The agency is looking good. We've got money in the bank. Operating money, I mean."

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A criminal investigation into the agency's finances remains under way, but Gordon said he could not elaborate.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said West Virginia State Police is handling the investigation, with assistance from a couple of other agencies. She said she could not comment further.

Region 9 is a nonprofit state agency that helps municipal and county governments in the Eastern Panhandle obtain grants. Region 9 officials write grant applications and also distribute grant money once it is received, said Howard Strauss, a Berkeley County Commissioner who sits on Region 9's board.

Members of the board met at a Martinsburg restaurant Wednesday afternoon to discuss finances and other matters.

Two new employees have been hired, including Vicki Shean, who will help write grants and address concerns of local government officials. She started three weeks ago, Gordon said.

The second employee is a part-time office worker, Gordon said.

Gordon previously had been the agency's only employee after a second employee resigned and a third retired.

Region 9 was able to pay its bills after the municipalities and counties it serves forwarded money to the agency, Gordon said.

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