Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 30, 2013

MSP investigating Kalkaska recycling center

KALKASKA — Financial irregularities uncovered at the Kalkaska County Recycling Center prompted county officials to request a Michigan State Police investigation.

Details are vague, but Kalkaska Prosecutor Mike Perreault said he is awaiting a report of a criminal probe into the center’s oversight and supervision. Police, he said, have yet to seek an arrest warrant.

Kalkaska’s Board of Commissioners requested the investigation during a series of meetings that started a shakeup in the recycling center’s operations. On June 12, the board voted to have county Controller Tracy Nichol oversee the center’s reorganization and finances, a move that gave her authority to hire temporary employees to help with cleanup.

Commissioner Patty Cox said Nichol is now in charge of the recycling center. Nichol could not be reached for comment.

The board also requested the resignations of three of five solid waste and recycling committee members — Tom Mason, Diana Needham and Sandy Ruppert — for failing to take appropriate and corrective action into the financial problems. County documents state that numerous checks issued to the county were not timely deposited with the treasurer’s office and “there is an appearance of irregularities pertaining to the funds received for the deposit of recycled items.”

Treasurer Valerie Thornburg said the financial matters are still being resolved.

“There are some losses from checks going back to 2007, but some of them are still being processed,” she said.

Thornburg said the recycling center remains open and operational, but only one of two employees remain. She said volunteers are working on cleanup as the county looks to hire temporary help.

“They’re cleaning out two large warehouses and the yard from materials that been there for some time,” she said. “Apparently we have a very active recycling community over there. We’re doing everything to keep the recycling center running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.”

Cox referred more specific questions to her fellow Commissioner Debra Kimball, who could not be reached for comment, but said the actions should keep the center running.

“That’s why we’re working on it,” she said.



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