Wednesday, August 21, 2013
The History Museum of Hood River County remains closed as the county examines a preliminary audit report on the museum’s finances and how they may have been mishandled.
County Administrator Dave Meriwether reported last week that The History Museum was closed Aug. 9 after the county learned of “administrative and operational anomalies” with the museum’s accounting practices. The museum is currently in the process of applying for a 501(c)(3) federal nonprofit tax designation, and Meriwether said last week that museum funds may have been moved too soon from one account to another “in anticipation of that (nonprofit) formation, which is not yet in place or recognized by the IRS.”
Tigard accounting firm Pauly Rogers and Co arrived at the museum Aug. 15 to examine the museum books. Meriwether said the locks were changed on the museum doors to prevent any museum personnel, board members, or volunteers from gaining access to the building while the audit was being conducted.
“We just didn’t know how many keys were out there,” he explained.
Auditors with Pauly Rogers recently finished their investigation, but the museum doors still remain locked as the county reviews the preliminary report. At Monday night’s meeting of the Hood River County Board of Commissioners, museum board member Mary Ellen Barilotti, who was speaking on her own behalf, not the museum’s, was irked by the closure.
“We’re sort of upset that it had to close,” she said to the commissioners. “We don’t understand the reason why it had to close and considerable problems have arisen as a result of closing the building, not to mention Cemetery Tales. People are calling, there’s no one answering the phones, there’s nothing going on.”
Barilotti also noted that the issues at the museum that were reported “didn’t warrant the closure of the museum.”
The museum is operated by volunteers and board members and is staffed by one county employee, Connie Nice, as museum coordinator. When asked Tuesday morning whether Nice was still being paid while the museum was closed, Meriwether said he didn’t “want to comment on personnel matters.”
As for when the museum might open, Meriwether didn’t give a definite date.
“We hope to have the final (audit) report by the end of the month,” he said. “We hope to have the museum open before then, but I can’t say that for sure.”
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge