LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A La Vergne Parks and Rec advisory committee member openly admitted in a workshop meeting to soliciting funds and bids for a proposed veterans wall at Veterans Memorial Park.
“It very much shocked me,” said former advisory committee member Jason Cole.
Cole was at the meeting Monday night and said he couldn’t believe what he heard Candyce Bounds saying.
“That she has been out in the community talking to business leaders, soliciting donations and money for this project,” Cole said.
The problem is the project is still in the planning stages and has not yet been approved by the mayor and board of aldermen.
“At this point, there is no transparency,” Cole said. “All the citizens want is to make sure there is no fraud, waste, or abuse.”
News 2 talked to Bounds by phone who said maybe some of those at the workshop misinterpreted what she was saying.
“The only thing I said last night is I’m working on donations,” Bounds said. “I’ve talked to people about doing a fundraiser and possibly receiving donations. The only money I have collected is my own personal money.”
City Administrator Bruce Richardson released a statement that said, “We were first made aware of the issue last night, so we are in the initial stages of investigating. We will be talking with the committee member to learn what has occurred and take steps to ensure everything is being done in compliance with city policies and procedures.”
Parks and Rec is hoping to erect a Veterans Memorial Wall at the city park, which already bears the name.
The idea came from a memorial at Veterans Memorial Park in Dunlap, Tennessee.
“Well, it’s been a long-time coming,” said director AC Davis. “The park has been here some 15 years and to this point there hasn’t been no memorial, not even flags, and we’re glad to get the ball rolling.”
The plan is to go ahead and erect three flag poles with the American, state, and veteran flags.
Those flags will be donated by State Senator Jim Tracey, according to Davis.
After the project gets city approval, the process will began to construction the long-awaited memorial.
News 2 also contacted the State Comptroller’s Office, and spokesman John Dunn released a statement that said:
We would definitely frown upon such an action by the Parks and Rec board member where funds are being collected on behalf of the city with no oversight. Internal controls are being circumvented. Furthermore, the Board of Mayor and Alderman should have approved the fundraiser.
The Comptroller’s involvement in this matter will depend upon whether the city believes this individual had intent to defraud the city, or if donations appear to be missing. La Vergne should be able to handle this by requiring that internal controls be followed. For example, any donations should be made payable to the city, receipts should be issued for donations, and all donations should be turned over to the city recorder’s office for deposit into the city’s bank account.