By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Grand jury probes BoE spending
Mismanagement, not crimes suspected
Donell woods stadium
Delays in construction and placement of Donell Woods Stadium at Liberty County High School prompted members of the grand jury to question construction oversight at the Liberty County Board of Education. - photo by Courier file photo
The spending habits of the Liberty County Board of education in regards to construction projects were under fire during the last grand jury, which completed its session at the end of January.
The progress of Donell Woods Stadium was especially on the forefront as the grand jury subpoenaed three associates of project architect Buckley and Associates to explain any perceived delays in completion. Jason Rogers and Cheryl Conley from the board of education were also asked to discuss the details of other projects.
“We started thinking, why are they spending so much money and taking so long,” Terry Satterfield, grand jury foreman, said about their requests.
The stadium itself was used in the fall football season, but the field house and other incidentals are still incomplete.
The representatives from Buckley and Associates said the project is 95 percent complete and that problems with the topsoil and a new irrigation system are the only issues left to sort out.
Satterfield said the jury didn’t think there was any kind of criminal activity, but they were concerned that during the switch in superintendents (from Dr. Steve Wilmoth to Dr. Judy Scherer) construction projects were not properly monitored.
“There wasn’t anyone overseeing it from the BoE’s side,” Satterfield said.
According to grand
jury minutes, “Questions were raised with the majority concerned with the spending of taxpayer
funds. Areas of concern include: LCHS football field. Concerns of being over budget, cost of some items such as the scoreboard, selection of area for construction, materials of playing fields and contracting of work; pay scales for administrators in the system and teachers pay; contract for school resource officers; how much must be put aside for matching funds; how are contracts for construction awarded; inspection of construction projects by the assistant superintendent; playing field at Olvey Field and placement/use of well on Olvey Field.”
While questioning Rogers, Conley and the architects, Satterfield said they were able to provide answer and documentation for the spending.
“We didn’t find any legal issues,” Satterfield said. “I was definitely satisfied with their answers.”
However, Satterfield and the other members of the grand jury agreed on the recommendation for the next grand jury to continue their investigation into construction spending.
According to the jury’s presentments, it made the follow recommendations: “The next grand jury needs to investigate the spending procedures on construction projects; establish an oversight to monitor BoE spending on construction projects; subpoena Dr. Wilmoth; tequest that Mr. Roger Osbourne, director of maintenance and operations for the Liberty County BoE, speak to the grand jury about his role as maintenance director.”
“There should be some sort of oversight committee,” Satterfield said “It’s a precautionary thing. That way there would not be any misappropriation of funds,”
The next grand jury is in currently in session, but information regarding whether its following the recommendations of the previous session is not available.
“I firmly believe that we must all be accountable for what we do, including construction projects,” Deputy Superintendent Conley said in response to the investigation. “With today’s uncertain economy, we must ensure that we use our money wisely and make sound decisions based on the very best information.”
Barry Wilkes, clerk of courts, said there is no standard when it comes to who the grand jury selects to question.
“It varies from grand jury from grand jury,” Wilkes said.

Sign up for our e-newsletters