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Audit Bettis Park and un-named non-profit
A Column by the Editor
posted October 22, 2009
COLUMN – It looks as if I am starting to
get under the skin of Edgefield County Council Vice-chairman Willie
Bright questioning the things that have been going on at Bettis Park.
It is not as if that is un-chartered waters for me, in reality it’s
more of Déjà vu. But this time it is different; there is
more information, more statements on the record, far more questions,
and an investigation. There has also been an open call for an audit of
Bettis Park activities by a county council
member. Maybe it is the
pressure and the accountability that is getting to him and I’m just an
Bettis Park is the single county leased consolidated park for county
recreation football, the most profitable sport, as well as other sports
of baseball, softball, and soccer and has the only county owned
concession stand. All paid for and operated by the taxpayers of
Suddenly in 2006, former county administrator Wayne Adams overrode a
vote and ordinance passed by the county council and turned the
operation of the county concession stand at Bettis Park over to “the
leagues”, according to County Recreation Director Nick Waits. Money
that, by law, “must be deposited with the county
However, that did not take place at the county owned concession stand
at the only county park with sports. We have now learned that the
concession stand was, and is, being run by Debra Barley. She buys the
stock, oversees the selling of items, and takes in all the cash.
For years requests for where the funds went were denied, misdirected,
and ended with Edgefield County Council Chairman Monroe Kneece
admitting that nobody knows where the money is going.
Councilman Willie Bright gave a little more insight Monday night when
he stated the money was going to a non-profit and talked about all the
things “we” have done through it. He later turned his comments from a
“we” standpoint to a “ya’ll” claiming “we” are about to make “ya’ll”
(the county) pay more to use the park.
Now, call me crazy, but that has an awful ring of an open admission of
personal ownership to the entire situation at Bettis Park. Oh, and then
to top it off, Councilman Bright couldn’t remember the name of the
501(3)c that “we” can account for the money through.
Well, now isn’t that just special?
I say it is time to find the name of the non-profit Councilman Bright.
It’s time to reveal if your name is in anyway connected to this
wonderful non-profit that “we” did so much with and you so aggressively
defend without naming it.
I would also be interested to see if there is a problem with you voting
on matters that directly benefit an organization you seem to be
affiliated with including yourself as part of the “we” if that is the
case. I believe that would be a direct conflict of interests. I guess I
could be wrong.
Meanwhile the county taxpayers provide the concession stand, power the
concession stand, maintain the concession stand, insure the concession
stand, provide the customers to purchase items at the concession stand,
but gets no money from the concession stand.
That’s a sweetheart deal like none I’ve ever heard of before if you can
County council members Rodney Ashcraft (R- Westside) and Genia
Blackwell (R- Merriwether) have questioned why this new amendment to
the recreation ordinance is backdated to 2006. I agree with them. How
can you backdate anything? Either it happened or it didn’t on that
date. County Council members Monroe Kneece (D- Johnston), Willie Bright
(D- Bettis Academy), and Norman Dorn (D- Northside) have already voted
once to pass the ordinance.
The Sheriff’s Office, who launched an investigation, requested an audit
of the funds and was rebuked by the county. Councilman Ashcraft has
come forward formally requesting the audit be performed and is gaining
support for that measure.
The fact is county government is open to the public. It is not “them
against us”. “They” are “us” and we have every right to demand
accountability and they are by law demanded to supply it, it is that
The wording in the amendment was also questioned Monday night, drawing
the ire of Councilman Bright. The first reading stated the funds made
by the concession sales would be turned over to the leagues. When this
was pointed out to Mr. Bright, thus implicating the non-profit would be
excluded from being able to operate the stand he stated “we” started
the football league.
That’s odd, the county council voted to fund and start the football
league, not some unnamed non-profit - “we” had.
So let’s take County Councilman Willie Bright at his word. The money
that has been taken in since 2006 has been accounted for by the
treasurer “we” (the non-profit) has had for years. Great, it is a
non-profit receiving funding from a tax-exempt status and its books are
open for review.
Let’s open them along with membership rosters, board members past and
present, and minutes to the meetings.
Oh, and don’t forget the bank records.
Best of all, remember the same people are in charge of taking in gate
fees and do not give out tickets to the paying attendees at the park so
there is not a paper trail to the cash taken in there as well. Who can
tell if the person sticking dollar bills in his pockets at the gate is
turning in money from both pockets?
That would be nobody.
With all this un-accounted for cash floating around, it just seem like
there should be somebody held accountable. I’m sorry; I forgot that
Willie Bright couldn’t remember the names.
However, Council Willie Bright, according to league volunteers, shut
down their sale of cupcakes to fund the cheerleaders forcing all sales
to the concession stand to profit a non-profit whose name escapes him.
Here’s an idea, why don’t we start with Willie Bright since he seems to
know, and has forgotten, more than anyone else in this completely
sordid affair as well as County Council Chairman Monroe Kneece. Surely
the Chairman and Vice-chairman know what is going on.
Darn, I forgot again, Kneece doesn’t know and Bright can’t
And where is the ever self-proclaimed champion of watchdogs of “the
peoples money” Norman Dorn in all of this? So far he is voting to sweep
it under the rug.
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