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UCDD fallout could be far-reaching
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Backlash from the Upper Cumberland Development District scandal could have lawmakers taking a look at financial spending in other agencies.
Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, recently announced to News Channel 5 that he will be drafting legislation aimed at establishing a legislative committee to investigate other agencies set up years ago to create jobs and help the poor.
One of those could be Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency. Created in 1974 by the Tennessee General Assembly, UCHRA offers programs to elderly individuals and those in financial need.
“If the bill is passed, I’m sure we will be investigated,” said UCHRA temporary Executive Director Ruth Ann Woolbright. “I’m not concerned with it at all. I came here last August and everything has been done like it should be. We receives grants that spell out exactly how the money is to be used. Those directions are followed to the letter. I make sure of it.”
Woolbright says she has been following the development district scandal with a heavy heart.
“I think Upper Cumberland Development District has hurt all of us,” she said. “I’m sure they will be checking on all of us to make sure we are spending what we receive as we should.”
UCHRA covers 14 counties, including Warren County. It offers transportation, winter heating assistance, weatherization assistance, nutrition services, etc. Elderly, handicapped and severely economically disadvantaged individuals are given first priority.
The agency also funds organizations like Meals on Wheels.
“I’m expecting it to get to us at some point,” Warren County Meals on Wheels director Martha Pepper said of the UCDD investigation. “I’m not worried about Meals on Wheels at all. We don’t have anything to hide. I hate it that good people are probably shaking in their boots waiting for this to trickle down to them.”
Pepper says her only concern will be the amount of paperwork she will have to dig through.
“Our only problem is we don’t know how long we need to keep paperwork, so we don’t throw anything out. If we did it, it’s here in this building. It might take us time to find it, but I’m not worried about being investigated.”
Williams’ bill should be ready next week. If approved, the committee would hold hearings beginning this summer.