Fraud scandal at MFOA
Two Maumelle leaders charged with felony theft and will face trial later this year; Chad Gardner with the Maumelle City Council report, Dragon Boat festival this weekend plus headlines
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Death toll stays steady
The weekly death toll from the ongoing pandemic stayed steady as the total number of dead Arkansans was at 23.
The previous week it was at 27
The total number of dead Arkansans is now at 11,511
As for the national trends, the forecast numbers from the Centers for Disease Control are below and through July 2.
As the weekly death toll has inched up, so have the forecasts as now most are calling for between 11,500 and 12,000 total deaths in the next four week. One outlier forecast is calling for beyond that at around 12,500 deaths.
If you don’t want to get sick and die, there’s some things you can do:
Wear a mask
Upcoming meetings: The North Little Rock City Council will meet next Monday night.
Upcoming events: The Dragon Boat Festival starts this Friday at Lake Willastein.
There’s now a one-stop shop to learn about vaccination sites and other Covid related information. Click here to learn more.
Travs play two tonight
The Arkansas Travelers host Wichita in a doubleheader tonight after Wednesday’s night game was rained out. Faith and Family Night is still set for Saturday night. Details below.
Today ... 5:05 p.m. ... vs. Wichita (DH); Promotions: $3 Thirsty Thursday
Friday ... June 10 ... 7:05 p.m. ... vs. Wichita; Promotions: Fireworks and Noche De Diamantes
Saturday ... June 11 … 5:35 p.m. ... vs. Wichita; Promotions: Faith & Family Night | Duck Dynasty’s Jep Robertson will be on hand and will participate in a pregame moderated Q&A, then following the game, there will be an on-field screening of “God’s Not Dead.” Group tickets are available for $5 each.
Sunday ... June 12 … 1:35 p.m. ... vs. Wichita; Promotions: Operation: Military Appreciation and Family Sunday
Tuesday ... June 14 ... 7:05 p.m. ... at NW Arkansas
Wednesday ... June 15 ... 7:05 p.m. ... at NW Arkansas
Thursday ... June 16 ... 7:05 p.m. ... at NW Arkansas
Friday ... June 17 ... 7:05 p.m. ... at NW Arkansas
Saturday ... June 18 ... 6:05 p.m. ... at NW Arkansas
Sunday ... June 19 … 2:05 p.m. ... at NW Arkansas
Maumelle: City Council report
Council Reviews and accepts 2019 Financial Audit; Elected official salaries approved for 2023-2024; Discussion regarding Maumelle’s affiliation with Maumelle Friends of the Animals organization
The Maumelle City Council meeting this week started off by recognizing this year’s Maumelle Youth Council award recipients. Avery Champion was recognized as this year’s Peyton Award recipient. Champion plans to attend Brigham Young University in the Fall. Stephan Bolan was the recipient of the Peyton-Scott Scholarship and he plans to attend the University of Arkansas. Congrats to both students! They were very deserving of their awards.
The council reviewed and approved the financial audit for 2019 at this week’s meeting. The auditors noted that everything appeared to be in order with our city’s finances. You may recall the city just completed the 2018 audit a few months ago. Additionally, the city has plans to complete the 2020 and 2021 audits later this year. Our finance department has made tremendous strides getting everything in order so that we can have timely financial reporting going forward. I greatly appreciate all the work they’ve done over the past several years to get us to this point.
Under old business, the council voted to approve elected official salaries for the 2023 and 2024 calendar years. The recommended salaries were proposed by a committee of residents after studying peer cities to Maumelle. Effective January 1, 2023, the elected official salaries will be as follows:
Mayor - $102,691
City Clerk / Treasurer - $67,473
City Attorney - $105,002
City Council - $7,500 (no change from previous years)
Also under old business, the council approved Patrick McIntire (a Maumelle firefighter) to be allowed to seek a permit for his towing company to do business in the city. The towing company he’s an owner in will be one of many companies allowed to do business in the city.
In new business, the council approved a preliminary development plan for Ink Properties to expand their facility in Maumelle’s Industrial Park. Ink has been a long-time resident in Maumelle and it’s great to see their business growing and doing well. This expansion will add additional warehouse space for their business.
In an administrative budget resolution, the council accepted insurance funds used to replace the roof on Fire Station 1. These repairs to the fire station have already been completed.
The council also approved a small budget resolution that will purchase six tablets to be used out in the city by Public Works and Code Enforcement. This will allow our city employees to monitor permitted activities out in the field and log their reports real-time rather than having to come back to the office to review and file their reports. As our city grows and more activity takes place, this will save a lot of time and allow for quicker response times to those doing work in our city as well as faster resolution for residents in monitoring permitted activities.
Lastly, the council approved another small budget resolution to cover travel for OpenGov.org employees to travel to Maumelle later this Summer. OpenGov is Maumelle’s vendor for our new financial software and they will be here to train our finance employees on the software and help with the onboarding and conversion from our existing financial software.
During council member comments, Council Member Steve Mosley mentioned the recent news regarding felony theft charges being filed against two board members with Maumelle Friends of the Animals. He asked the city attorney to speak about this and how the city might be involved due to MFOA’s involvement in supporting Maumelle Animal Services. The following is my understanding of this matter after I spoke with our city attorney a few weeks ago:
In late 2021, city officials became aware that board members with MFOA admitted to stealing approximately $50,000 in funds donated to the organization over the last several years. While MFOA had not requested an investigation, the Maumelle police department immediately began looking into this matter along with the city attorney. After law enforcement and the city attorney completed their review, the file was handed over to the Pulaski County Prosecutor’s office for review.
Due to a backlog in the Prosecutor’s office, this review took several months before charges were filed in May. Ultimately, two board members with MFOA were charged for felony theft.
Please note that this does not involve any city or taxpayer funds and this is a private matter between a charitable organization and two of its board members. That said, MFOA has had a long history of helping Maumelle Animal Services with medical and adoption expenses for animals in our shelter. Additionally, this charitable organization has been greatly supported by the residents of our community so it’s disappointing to learn of this abuse of trust with donated funds. I know our residents care deeply about their pets as well as the well-being of the animals in the shelter and want to continue helping however they can.
Please note you can always make donations of goods directly to Maumelle Animal Services, but I would encourage you to call ahead to Maumelle Animal Services (501-851-6219) and ask what would be most helpful before you donate an item. Also, feel free to share your time. Maumelle Animal Services strongly encourages residents to come in and spend a few minutes with animals helping them socialize. This helps tremendously since shelter animals aren’t able to get as much socialization as they normally would. So giving 10-20 minutes of your time to come and sit and play with the animals would be an invaluable gift that will help greatly.
That’s all for the week. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Chad. 501-529-1336, firstname.lastname@example.org
Here be Dragons: Festival at Lake Willastein this weekend
The annual River Cities Dragon Boat Festival will be this Friday and Saturday at Lake Willastein in Maumelle.
The boat races are on Saturday, while festivities begin at 5 p.m. on Friday with music starting at 7 p.m.
Admission is free and proceeds from the team entry fees will benefit the Children’s Protection Center.
Food trucks and yard games will be available on Friday and Saturday, with a fireworks show to close out the festival at 9:10 p.m. on Friday night. Races will start at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.
For more information, click here for the festival’s website.
Schedule of events
Noon: Athlete’s Village team set up begins
4:45 p.m.: Athlete’s Village closes to all vehicles
5 p.m.: Team check-in begins, Team practices on the water, Food Trucks open, Yard Games open
6 p.m.: Children’s Area Opens
7 p.m.: Music, fun from the stage
8:30 p.m.: Practices finish
9:10 p.m.: Fireworks Show
7:30 a.m.: Athlete’s Village opens, allpaddlers arrive, sign waivers, receive wrist bands
9 a.m.: Opening Ceremony & Drummer’s Parade
9:15 a.m.: Marshalling & Races Begin
11:30 a.m.: Dragon Cup Race
1 p.m.: Championship Round
2:45 p.m.: Awards Ceremony
PCSSD honors volunteers
The Pulaski County Special School District recently recognized its volunteers, who donated more than 15,000 hours of services at schools in the district this past school year.
Among those recognized from Maumelle are Kathy Tucker and Pat Matthews, pictured below:
Also honored was Maumelle’s Marie Bjork, the PTSO President and pictured below:
Our PALS, people assisting local schools, are an integral part of the PCSSD community that include parents, grandparents, retirees, business partners, and so much more. Volunteers help with a wide variety of tasks to keep the school functioning and assist in each student’s success. During the 2021-2022 school year, our PCSSD volunteers contributed 17,672 hours!
Click PCSSD honors volunteers to read more
North Little Rock’s Chilcoat headed to Boys Nation
North Little Rock’s Henry Chilcoat, a rising senior at Little Rock Central, was elected by his peers at Arkansas Boys State to attend Boys Nation in Washington D.C.
Chilcoat was one of just two students from Arkansas Boys State elected to represent the state at the national program sponsored by the American Legion and will join representatives from 49 other states at Boys Nation from July 22-30.
Chilcoat defeated nearly 300 other students vying for one of two spots for Boys Nation. Chilcoat first secured his mock county's nomination for Boys Nation before eliminating 14 others for his mock party's nomination for Boys Nation. Two representatives from each mock party ran for Boys Nation in the general election, where two were elected to represent Arkansas.
"Boys Nation is a prestigious honor," said Lloyd Jackson, executive director of Arkansas Boys State. "That's clear by the fact that only two are elected by their peers to represent us on the national stage. Henry has proven himself in this election, and we're proud he's one of our representatives at Boys Nation."
While at Boys Nation in Washington, Chilcoat will serve as a "senator" from Arkansas, where he and his fellow legislators will "organize into committees and conduct hearings on bills submitted by program delegates," according to the Boys Nation website. The delegation will also elect cabinet members, a vice president and a president.
Chilcoat and his peers will hear lectures and visit federal agencies, institutions and historical sites. Chilcoat and his fellow senator from Arkansas will also meet with the Arkansas congressional delegation.
"Henry's school and community should be remarkably proud of this accomplishment," said Jackson. "We look forward to seeing the success he enjoys at Boys Nation and seeing how he honors his constituents from Arkansas Boys State 2022."
Other Arkansas Boys State alumni who represented the state at Boys Nation include U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton and former President Bill Clinton, who was famously pictured shaking hands with then President John F. Kennedy.
For more information on Arkansas Boys State and Boys Nation, visit arboysstate.org.
Felony charges filed against Lewis, Thomas
Felony fraud charges were filed against Maumelle’s Jean Wheeler Lewis and April Thomas with a trial date set for later this year.
Lewis, was formerly the president of the Maumelle Friends of Animals, and in that capacity, prosecutors allege she took thousands of dollars from the organization in a multi-year scheme. She is charged with Theft of Property, a Class B Felony, as the amount was greater than $25,000.
Thomas, who still serves as treasurer of the organization, was hit with two charges. Both for Theft of Property, a Class D Felony, as the amounts were between $1,000 to $5,000 each.
Maumelle Mayor Caleb Norris said Thursday morning that the city became aware of the fraud allegations late last year and the investigative “file ends in the prosecutor’s office” and “it was there so long.”
Norris said the fraud, “was a series of transactions … but my understanding is that it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000 that they ended up charging with.”
“As soon as the city heard rumors that this was occurring, we sent it to the police department who conducted a full scale criminal investigation,” Norris said, “We immediately stopped our interaction with the Friends of the Animals as soon as we found out.
Norris, along with City Attorney Melissa Krebs and Chris Davis with the city’s Animal Control office worked together, as they “wanted a much clearer line between the responsibilities of the city” and Maumelle Friends of Animals.
Maumelle Friends of Animals is a non-profit that worked closely with the city, but was not under Maumelle’s purview, Norris said.
“There was a lot of confusion about the two entities,” Norris added. “I'd be willing to say most didn't really realize it was two entities. And we shouldn't have allowed that to happen.”