Friday, July 24, 2009

Cherokee Library - Paige II

With a population of just under 1,300 and negligible sales tax receipts, the town of Cherokee (Main Street pictured) in western Colbert County is fortunate to have a library; however, the town isn't sure just how long this good fortune will continue. Allison Paige McWilliams was the town's third librarian in just over four years; now the small community has filed a $43,000.00 lawsuit against McWilliams.

Our May 16th column initially reported that just under $17,000.00 was missing; updated preliminary audits now indicate that McWilliams used the library's credit card for purchases of $16,054.50--mainly at Wal-Mart, Chevron, and Shell. State Certified Accountants have just begun the forensic audit that may turn up other unauthorized charges, and the town is unable to press charges with the District Attorney until such an audit is completed.

With only $200.00 in the library's bank account, and unable to get new state funding while open less than 16 hours a week, the town has pressed forward with a civil suit. The suit, filed by town attorney Rebecca Narmore, also alleges Paige McWilliams forged library chairperson Ella Nelson's name on an official document, having town clerk Melinda Malone notarize the signature. McWilliams has denied the allegations and announced she will defend herself against the charges.

It's unfortunate the citizens of Cherokee are having to suffer for lack of library funding, but the town itself must shoulder some blame in this situation. Any checking/debit or credit card account should be balanced and monitored by someone other than those in control of the funds. As for Ms. Malone notarizing a signature she did not herself witness, that speaks for itself.

Note: Last chance to see the Drive By Truckers tonight. You don't always have to leave home for great entertainment.