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ATV trails agency at standstill, lawmakers told

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Attempting to comply with a legislative audit from November, the Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreational Authority now finds itself in limbo, unable to function either as a nonprofit corporation or as a state agency, the authority’s attorney told legislators Monday.

“We are dead in the water,” attorney Harry Shaffer said of the authority, which operates the popular ATV trails in seven Southern West Virginia counties.

November’s audit concluded that the authority, which had operated as a nonprofit corporation since its inception in 1996, by law actually is a state agency, and should have been complying with state regulations for purchasing, employment and ethics.

Shaffer told the legislative Post Audits Subcommittee that to comply with the audit the authority canceled all its contracts in order to properly bid them out.

However, when representatives of the authority went to the state auditor and state Purchasing Division to put out request for bids, they were advised the legislation creating the authority does not allow it to set up state financial accounts.

“This has been a complete fiasco,” Shaffer said. “We can’t do anything right now. We cannot buy anything right now. We can’t enter into any contracts.”

He said the issue needs to be resolved quickly in the upcoming legislative session, before landowners who permit the authority to use their properties for ATV trails without charge revoke those agreements.

“We feel at peril…

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