The chairman of the Osage County Board of County Commissioners said Monday that a state investigation of aspects of his district’s operations is continuing.
District 2 Commissioner Kevin Paslay announced about a month ago that the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation had initiated an investigation of the District 2 yard and operations. He said in October that he had given the OSBI his full cooperation and would keep the public informed of developments in the matter.
Paslay said Tuesday that the investigation has not wrapped up.
“That is still ongoing,” he said, indicating he will continue to provide updates.
Paslay’s effort to address potential public concerns about the OSBI investigation of his district is just one of several instances in the past few weeks of Osage County officials taking affirmative steps to bolster public confidence.
During a meeting Nov. 13, District 1 Commissioner Jerry Howerton said he would like to have a closeout audit of his operations. Howerton lost his bid for re-election Nov. 6 to Randall Jones and will be leaving office.
During that same meeting, commissioners heard comments regarding a state audit of the Country Corner Fire Department and the emergency medical service it has been operating. District Attorney Rex Duncan said he had requested the state audit, and was still awaiting the audit report.
Duncan advised the commissioners not to make any decisions that would commit additional county financial resources to Country Corner, which is located in Sperry, until the audit report is issued.
Three Country Corner officials — board vice president Randy Meyer, fire chief Randall Williams and board member Mike Brace — appeared before the commissioners and answered questions from them and from a Sperry taxpayer, Ronnie Wilson.
Wilson asked the Country Corner officials several questions related to his concerns about how Country Corner has been financing its operations. He said that he thinks the current board has good intentions.
“I wouldn’t have gotten involved if anything was shady,” Meyer assured him.
District 3 Commissioner Darren McKinney pressed the Country Corner officials, however, to do a better job of providing financial information to the county. McKinney said the information had been requested, but had not been supplied.
“When we ask for a financial report, we need it,” McKinney said, pointing out that, without requested financial data, he and other commissioners are left at a loss what to say to concerned citizens if they turn to the commissioners for answers.
Meyer pledged to promptly provide financial reports for Country Corner to the commissioners.
Mick Dodson, a representative of the state Auditor and Inspector’s department, attended the session and said he was aware that the field work on the Country Corner audit had been completed. He said organizational structure at Country Corner will likely be an issue addressed in the audit report.
Meyer acknowledged there had been some use of fire department funding to support the ambulance service (a governmental entity supporting a non-profit), but said he and other current board members are trying to clean things up.
“We’ve seen better, we’ve seen worse; we’ve seen much worse,” Dodson said of the Country Corner audit.