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Senior Meal Program Under Investigation

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The Calaveras County Grand Jury, in a report published in Tuesday´s edition of the Calaveras Enterprise, said the way Area 12 Agency on Aging officials closed the communal senior meals program earlier this year contributed to unnecessary personal and public offense and stress on Senior Center volunteers and elderly meal recipients.

In its 16-page report, the grand jury received a citizen´s complaint alleging that Area 12 and its Executive Director Peggy Lee took “unilateral dictatorial actions” by closing the nutrition site and removing other senior services from the San Andreas Senior Center, according to Grand Jury Foreman Bill Todd

While Lee “may have had the written authority and power to close the nutrition site and remove others senior services and equipment under the purview at the Calaveras Senior center in San Andreas, the manner in which those powers were exercised contributed to unnecessary personal and public offense and stress on volunteers, paid personnel and the seniors who attended the Senior Center,” the jury concluded

The complaint requested a complete financial audit of the Area 12 books, especially January and February 2003, when the meal program was closed. The jury noted that the supervisors have already asked for an independent audit of Area 12´s books.

Area 12 manages senior meals and other programs in Amador, Alpine, Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties, and is overseen by a board of directors drawn from those counties.

Area 12 officials say the agency is carrying a $43,081 deficit for Calaveras County on its books from the senior meals program. The grand jury also called for the Calaveras Supervisors to pay off the county´s deficit in a timely manner, or justify their nonpayment to the Area 12 agency, Todd said.

The supervisors earlier this spring amended a Community Development Block Grant to allow the use of $43,089 to cover the deficit. However, the board did not immediately release the money to the agency, saying it still wants answers through an audit about the alleged red ink.

Tom Mitchell, Calaveras County administrative officer, said he sent the Area 12 agency a letter asking for an audit, which the county will pay for. Lee said the agency has not received a letter yet. She said she would welcome the audit.

To that Mitchell said he will fax the letter to the agency, just in case it got lost in the mail.

Calaveras Enterprise Story by Vanessa Turner

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