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Hinton town officials mishandled $123K in federal funds, inquiry shows

The town of Hinton recently was investigated for mishandling $123,700 in federal funds and will now be subject to special conditions if they want to obtain similar grants in the future.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: September 25, 2012 at 10:07 pm •  Published: September 26, 2012

Speaking at a Hinton Town Council meeting in May, Ward said a company owned by a town employee was used to do electrical work for a water well house. A company owned by a town employee's son was used to lay block pavement for the well house.

It also was learned that a contract was signed to drill one well before the federal funds were available and that work on the project started before a release of funds was received.

Ward's letter discloses that six invoices totaling $877.97 were double-billed for reimbursement from the federal government and that a $1,000 invoice related to the water well project was sent to the wrong agency for repayment.

Ward wrote that turnover among key town officials and staff contributed to problems with the grant's administration.

“The positions of mayor, all council members, the town clerk and the town treasurer are staffed with different individuals than those who would have received an initial briefing from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce,” Ward wrote. “Quiet simply, when turnovers in key positions occur in local government, things sometimes slip through the cracks — even important things.”

Federal grants are essential in small towns, he wrote. “Hinton can ill-afford to have its privilege of applying for future CDBG grants revoked.”