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Audit says Hatfield-McCoy agency acting illegally

Charleston Gazette photo by Kenny Kemp Riders negotiate a hairpin turn on the Indian River trail system in McDowell County, part of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail, in September 2011. A preliminary audit released Tuesday shows that the authority operating the trail system should be acting as a state agency, not a nonprofit corporation.
Charleston Gazette photo by Kenny Kemp
Riders negotiate a hairpin turn on the Indian River trail system in McDowell County, part of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail, in September 2011. A preliminary audit released Tuesday shows that the authority operating the trail system should be acting as a state agency, not a nonprofit corporation.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Since its inception in 1996, the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority — which operates the popular ATV trails in seven Southern West Virginia counties — has functioned as a nonprofit corporation that happens to receive state funding.

However, a preliminary audit released Tuesday to the legislative Post Audits Committee concluded that under the law, the authority is a state agency — and should have been complying with state purchasing, employment and ethics requirements.

“Either through ignorance, misinterpretation or for some other reason, HMRRA has conducted its business as if these laws do not apply to it,” Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred said in the preliminary audit.

“Many of their contracts are, in fact, illegal,” Allred told the committee. “The question is, how do you go forward from here?”

Jeffery Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield McCoy Authority, and counsel Harry Shaffer told legislators they agree with the findings, and will work to get the authority into compliance with the law by July 2015.

“We agree … we are a state agency, we are a spending unit of the state of West Virginia, our employees are public servants and our board members are part-time public officials,” Shaffer said. “In this coming fiscal year, we will be prepared to operate in full compliance with state law.”

Lusk said that includes canceling contracts that were not put out to bid…

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