The two resign from St. Helena Council on aging as the audit remains | Crime/Police | Jobs Recent

Two senior members of St. The Helena Parish Council on Aging has resigned, citing an ongoing review of the organization and how they were treated during this time.

James Miller, the board president, and Rita Allen, the transportation coordinator, resigned in separate positions during Thursday’s heated meeting of the organization’s board of directors.

“After all the things that have happened, the documents that I have reviewed regarding the finances, as well as the files of the employees, the policies that we say we do and unfortunately we do not, I feel that I have failed as a board president and board member. ,” said Miller, who announced his resignation at the beginning of the meeting and then left.

Members of the board’s finance committee called on the Louisiana Governor’s Office of the Elderly to conduct the investigation and said they believe it will reveal years-long problems such as misappropriation of funds and improper payment of workers.

Although the audit is not yet available, the board’s findings on Thursday show that management lacked policies and procedures “to ensure appropriate controls.”

Allen, who announced his resignation about two hours before the meeting adjourned, had been under investigation by the finance committee for allegedly misappropriating funds and reducing employee hours, according to De’Shon Muse, a six-month board member who was named interim president. after Miller’s departure.

Allen told the board that his decision to resign stemmed from abuse by board members during the investigation and that the allegations against him were false.

“The way I was treated is unacceptable,” said Allen. “I don’t have to stay here to get this.”

In addition to the departures of Miller and Allen, executive director Jim Robb announced his resignation in recent weeks and will leave the organization at the end of the year, Muse said.

Councils for the Aging provide parishioners aged 60 and over with essential services such as transport, food delivery and utility assistance for those unable to care for themselves independently.

For a rural parish like St. In Helena, where most of the 12,000 residents live amid dense forests and dirt roads, these jobs are important because residents often travel long distances to get groceries, go to the doctor or pick up the mail. .

About one-fifth of the population of St. Helena is age 65 or older, according to US Census data.

However, providing these services proved difficult for the St. Helena, as it struggles to protect drivers and provide adequate care for the elderly.

The agency employs about half the number of drivers it needs, which Muse said is more likely the result of limited funding and uncertain hours; Mr. Robb said at the meeting that he had refused many rides as he had done in the past 15 months due to the lack of drivers.

The board has also struggled to open a community center since the CCID-19 pandemic, and has had issues with food delivery to seniors’ homes, Muse said in an interview.

Less than 24 hours after the conference, Muse posted to Facebook groups the jobs of executive director, transportation coordinator, fitness center manager, fitness center coordinator and bus drivers. They and other members of the finance committee said that they are hopeful that they will come forward with the public and continue to deal with the results of this investigation.

“The board is working hard so that we can accommodate our legislators and entertain them and get them back to their normal lives,” board member Margret Gross said in an interview on Friday. “We are working as hard as we can.”

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