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Officials waiting for Shenandoah Farms FD's reply to audit

State seeks written acknowledgement of findings, corrective actions

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- State officials are still waiting for a written reply from the Shenandoah Farms Volunteer Fire Department to an audit of the department's bingo operations conducted in May.

The audit, addressed to Don Hoover, president of the fire department's board of directors, requested that he sign a form acknowledging that he agreed with the findings and that the department planned to follow a series of corrective actions called for in the audit.

Kay Cholko, audit team leader in the Office of Charitable Gaming, said Monday that Shenandoah Farms had allowed its permit to expire, "which is probably why they haven't returned the [audit] letter."

"It was not renewed at their option," Cholko said of the permit.

The audit covered the year 2010 and disclosed nine record-keeping shortcomings and called for the department to take seven corrective actions.

Cholko said the audit was a routine event conducted periodically among organizations operating bingo games.

"We had not done an audit on them in three years," she said of Shenandoah Farms, adding that the three-year interval is "one of our criteria" in determining when an organization will be audited.

The audit was not connected to another audit of the department conducted around the same time by an investigator hired by Warren County officials. They took action after a variety of accusations of financial and personnel mismanagement against Shenandoah Farms were leveled by a critic at a Board of Supervisors meeting in the spring.

The auditor's report described an interview with a Clarke County Sheriff's Office detective who said she was concerned about an incident in which someone fired a gun at the critic's house and vehicle, leaving both "riddled with gunshots."

A criminal incident report with the Warren County Sheriff's Office cited a BB gun as a possible weapon used in the shooting, although an investigating deputy could not confirm what, if any, firearms were involved.

Other parts of the 20-page audit conducted for Warren County included a 44-item list of examples of financial mismanagement and suspicious actions indicating fraud or the need for further investigation into possible improprieties.

Shenandoah Farms officials have insisted they have been working to solve problems that existed before most of the current board membership took office in early 2010. They have called for a meeting with Warren County Administrator Douglas P. Stanley and his counterpart in Clarke, David L. Ash, to explain the department's problems and the progress they have made toward solving them.

Cholko said despite the routine nature of the audit and the lapse of the fire department's bingo permit, her agency is still prodding Shenandoah Farms for a reply to the audit.
She said her agency would "give them a call" to sign and return the form as part of the normal procedure for bringing an audit investigation to a close.

Cholko said she did not see anything in the audit that would prevent the department from obtaining a new permit once the corrective actions were taken. She described the shortcomings listed in the audit as "routine things we find in voluntary organizations. They're things they just don't understand and might miss in keeping detailed records."


Since it has to be in writing, mebbe they're trying to figure out how to spell that throwback rallying cry, "Lemme make it right." Or mebbe they're down in the Bahamas trying out all the diving gear they bought and then had "disappear." Or mebbe they're tweaking their rationale why bb gun shots don't matter???

Just for the record most of the concerns in the bingo audit were addressed with the gaming commission earlier in the year. The requested letter was signed and returned just recently. Please reread the last paragraph of the article very. slowly and let it sink in.

Yeah, that last paragraph is very, very scary. One wonders if there is a conflict of interest we're not privy to. I chose to ignore that paragraph and focus on SFVFD, but now that you've brought it up, it just reinforces the fact that volunteer FDs need to go. They were great when our culture was different, when people did not see vandalism by bb gun as defensible, when our schools could spend more time educating students and less time dealing with bullying, drugs, guns, and other low class trends. It's obvious that shame (which can be a strong motivator for change - in a criminal, for example) no longer operates in this culture. Instead of hanging their heads and apologizing, they come out with that "Lemme make it right" garbage. Most jurisdictions would never, and I mean never, accept this type of public "service." Why should we?

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