LOGAN — For the second time this month, the Logan County Commission (LCC) has responded to allegations of financial misconduct on social media.
Rather than take the social media assault lying down, the commission has responded with what is, perhaps, a government body’s greatest weapon against rumor and alleged scandal: transparency.
At their Dec. 7 meeting, the LCC received an update from Jack Barry, director of the local government purchasing card program for the state auditor’s office.
Barry praised the commission for their increased use of the state purchasing card describing the card as the most transparent way a government body can make a purchase.
During the meeting, Logan County Administrator Rocky Adkins addressed Barry saying, “The county commission was made aware of something that happened on social media….There is an insinuation of money being misspent because of gaps on the check register.”
Barry responded, “To my knowledge, that is not true. You guys have done very, very well and we appreciate your effort…”
Adkins then released the following statement to the media:
“The Logan County Commission, on behalf of its employees who work in the purchasing department, felt a need to respond. On a social media venue, it has been falsely insinuated that there are some checks unaccounted for in our check register by lines being blank. The blank lines are a replication of the last entry above it, which is typical in most software printouts. Purchasing has copies of these checks for anybody to review. The checks in question are audited in two ways: our annual county audit and the W.Va. purchasing card audit.”
In essence, social media posts accused the LCC of attempting to embezzle funds by using a purchasing card they knew would be audited twice.
More recently, similar posts have accused the LCC of overpaying for its new building situated across from the Logan County Courthouse.
Because the building has ties to former Logan County politicians, social media posts are alleging a conspiracy to purchase the building at well over market value.
However, while answering questions from the Logan Banner, the poster stated they obtained the value of the building in question from the Logan County Assessor’s Office.
For tax purposes, the Logan County Assessor’s Office assigns a building’s assessed value at a percentage of its market value.
Adkins explained the assessor’s office assigns only 60 percent of a building’s value to be taxed, so, when the social media poster attained a value for the building at the assessor’s office, they attained the assessed value — not the market value.
On Dec. 17, Adkins forwarded a copy of the building’s appraisal to The Logan Banner.
The document shows that the LCC employed the Charleston firm Rolston and Company to attain an appraisal for the building.
The appraisal states the building was valued at $1,191,000 on Dec. 8, 2014.
Adkins added a deal was worked out where the LCC would purchase all of the existing office furniture in the building for $39,000 bringing the total spent on the building to 1,230,000. Adkins reported the total value of the furniture was estimated to be over $200,000.
Adkins noted, “The truth is the truth.”
During an interview with The Logan Banner, Adkins also addressed the social media response to several break-ins that occured in Logan Dec. 15.
The break-ins occurred at the Hot Cup Coffee Shop and the old National Bank Building next door.
Logan Chief of Police E.K. Harper explained they believe the suspect entered the Hot Cup in the rear of the building and eventually used the building’s roof to access the building next door.
“It’s a universal problem that there’s crime everywhere,” added Adkins.
After the break-in, Michael Cline, the owner of the Hot Cup Coffee Shop in downtown Logan, turned to Facebook posting his opinion that Logan County officials are not dolling out proper punishments to criminals.
The posts made their way to Adkins who reports he opened a dialogue with Cline about the workings of the justice system in Logan County.
Cline later released the following post on Facebook:
“…in the interest of only the truth and getting to the bottom of the problem of crime that is begining to threaten the viability of our little town, you’ll be happy to know that I have began an open dialogue with people who work with the police, the magistrates and the county commission. It’s one thing for me to post statistics and place blame out of frustration, but that doesn’t solve problems. Talking with people who can cause change does. I look forward to more future discussions with these individuals on what it takes for them and, indeed, all of us to enact positive change in our communities.”
As social media continues to becomes more pervasive in daily life, municipalities and government bodies everywhere are taking notice and responding to issues as they arise — a trend that is sure to continue.
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1729 or by email at [email protected]