Friday, July 21, 2017

Chairman of Community Action Board Resigns

Darryl Johnson
After a meeting full of some business and at times contentious discussion and arguing, the Chairman of the Southeast Arkansas Community Action Board, Mr. Al Dixon, resigned.  The meeting took place Tuesday, July 18 in the conference room of the Community Action Agency's main office in Warren.  For a long time there has been conflict between a number of citizens of the five county area that makes up the Agency, lead by Mr. Darryl Johnson of Ashley County, and past and present board members and past and present Executive Directors.  The issues have included a variety of things but primarily accusations of illegal appointment of board members, alterations to minutes and improper and unwise expenditures.  State officials have forced the board to make changes and adopt some policies to address the issues and has required the re-selection of some board positions.  There has been no proof or evidence of any major financial discrepancies, although some issues were dealt with involving a former executive director.  This involved using the company credit card for personnel business.  There has been comments made about spending money on meetings.

During the meeting, Dekita Ross-Larry of the Department of Human Resources, spent some time providing training for the board on their responsibilities and how to function.  Training has been ongoing for a number of months and it appears some progress has been made.  The board heard various reports on the programs managed by the agency and a number of questions were asked.
Debra Cooper

A great deal of time continued to be spent discussing the alleged illegal make up of the board. and the needs of the head start center in Mitchellville, Arkansas.  There were questions asked relating to the agreement between the City of Mitchellville and the agency concerning the building being used for head start in Mitchellville.  The building apparently belongs to the city but no agreement can be found that spells out responsibilities.  At times the discussion was civil and at times it became more of a mass argument with statements being made by the audience and board members sometimes in a heated manner.  Board member Angela Meeks was insistent that the issue of illegal board members be addressed.  Board member Debra Cooper voiced comments and asked questions.  Several members made comments on the constant bickering and the need to run the agency's programs correctly to benefit those in need.

The Southeast Arkansas Community Action Agency provides important services to low income families for the Southeast Arkansas region.  It is overseen by the Arkansas Department of Human Services and governed by a local board made up of elected officials, private sector individuals and representatives of the low income community from each of the five counties of Southeast Arkansas.  It is under the authority of state and federal law.  It has done much good over the years of its existence.  The goal of the agency is to help the low income to better themselves.

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