The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


January 7, 2014

What a mess

Imagine you want to build a dream home. You have a plan, but it’s drawn on an old napkin and parts of it are smudged and there is a tear.

You made supply lists, but they are scattered hither and yon. You have the one that tells you how much lumber you need to build the house, but not the one that tells you how many shingles you will need.

A similar scenario is just about what was found when a legislative audit was conducted on the state Department of Agriculture. The audit was requested by Commissioner Walt Helmick when he took office last January.

The findings — a rural rehabilitation loan program that is in shambles — were discussed Monday at a legislative interims audit committee meeting.

According to auditor Aaron Allred, 25 of 40 outstanding loans are delinquent. In nearly half the loans audited, there was no evidence of any effort to collect on delinquent loans. A number of loans lacked sufficient collateral.

Auditors could not find any formal policies or procedures for awarding loans, or requirements that loan recipients have a good credit history or proof that they could repay the loans. Many of the loans had nothing to do with agriculture.

“We’ve got some kind of a rogue loan program without any sort of rules, regulations or oversight,” Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, said during the meeting.

Is that any way to run a loan program?

Short answer — no.

We first must applaud Commissioner Helmick for initiating the audit. He told legislators he had heard only rumors about the loan program, but that he had better take a look at it.

Thank the stars that he did. The audit’s findings have been turned over to the U.S. Attorney for investigation.

Such a lackadaisical attitude toward a multi-million dollar program goes beyond ridiculous. We also give Helmick credit for putting it — a program that appears to have potential for greater good — on hiatus until questions are answered.

We aren’t pointing fingers at anyone specifically, but it seems incomprehensible to us that such goings-on went unnoticed — or were ignored — for decades.

Whether criminal intent is found or not, we can only hope that no other surprises await at the outcome of the investigation.

Text Only
  • Missing from the show

    If they attended, lawmakers would see strides made by TWV

    July 31, 2014

  • VA breakthrough

    Compromise shows Congress can put partisanship aside for the proper cause

    July 30, 2014

  • Doughnut holes

    Annexation benefits outweigh the taxes

    July 29, 2014

  • The play’s the thing

    TWV twins reveal local riches that can’t be found anywhere else

    July 27, 2014

  • Primary care

    DHHR program weans folks away from the ER

    July 24, 2014

  • Rain? What Rain?

    Community still enjoys auto fair despite uncooperative weather

    July 23, 2014

  • Do tell

    It’s hard to keep a secret in today’s here-a-camera, there-a-camera, everywhere-a-camera world. Whatever one does that is embarrassing is immediately posted on YouTube, Facebook or other social media of choice.

    July 22, 2014

  • Juvenile justice

    West Virginia nearly doubled the rate it sent youths to juvenile facilities from 1997 to 2011, in contrast to declining rates of youthful incarceration elsewhere in the United States.

    July 20, 2014

  • Thumbs — Saturday, July 19, 2014

    July 19, 2014

  • Do something

     Johnstown police have charged three men in the brutal murder early Sunday of a city academy student.

    July 18, 2014