It’s full steam ahead in spite of railway museum audit


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Disturbing news emanating this week from the Elgin County Railway Museum hinting at possible financial irregularities.

We’re hearing of the treasurer either being dismissed or asked to step down; a new treasurer brought in; speculation about an upper level government funding application and HST submissions.

A call to museum executive director Michael Adams resulted in this official statement from the executive committee.

“It has come to our attention that recent financial statements presented were neither audited or reviewed. The audit report attached to the statements were not issued or authorized by the accounting firm involved in the preparation and review of those statements.

“The person involved with the creation and delivery of the subject audit report is no longer associated with the Elgin County Railway Museum Inc. Arrangements have been made for proper audits to be conducted for financial years 2010 and 2011.”


In speaking to Adams, he stressed “we’re not trying to hide anything. I really think this statement speaks for itself.”

He continued: “We will have further to say to our members in due course.”

He advised the audit is being undertaken by “a local, reputable firm.”

Adams assured the audit will not impact scheduled activities at the museum.

“Absolutely not. We’re full steam ahead with all our 2012 events. We have great staff and great support from our board.

“We’re already selling tickets for Thomas the Tank Engine (who will be visiting St. Thomas in July). There’s no cover up here.”

While Adams is limited as to what he can say, based on the advice of legal counsel, there appears to be no hint whatsoever in the official statement pointing to any action undertaken with a criminal intent.

Let’s hope this can be quickly resolved. The ECRM is a most valuable volunteer organization in St. Thomas/Elgin and its members have brought much joy to the thousands of excited youngsters who have visited here to enjoy a ride behind Thomas.

GOT TO HAVE THE RESOURCES

 A mention in this corner promoting the March 3 open house at the St. Thomas Police Service headquarters prompted this response from reader Joan Rymal.

“Glad to hear about the open house. The current facilities are well below the standards needed by the police department to do their job. It must be embarrassing when other forces, such as the OPP or RCMP come in to collaborate with our officers.

“It’s like giving someone a pair of scissors to cut the grass. You can do it, but it is very frustrating for the operator and the job is not efficient or effective.”

Joan concludes: “We need to ensure our police have the resources to enable them to do their job. Police services are vital to ensuring a sustainable community and encouraging new development for St. Thomas.”

That sums it all up.

To make reservations for an escorted tour of the current police facility, call 519-631-1224, ext. 266.

ANOTHER THREAT OF DEMOLITION BY NEGLECT?

At the Feb. 6 council meeting, Ald. Gord Campbell stood opposed to a heritage designation for Balaclava Pubic School.

“We know what happened with Alma,” Campbell reminded.

 The property was vandalized. It was broken into almost nightly and that may well be the fate of the Balaclava Street school.”

In a letter to the T-J, reader Barb Green threw the blame for vandalism at Alma College right back in the city’s lap.

“As a member of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario I would like to comment of the designation of Balaclava Street Public School under the Ontario Heritage Act,” writes Green.

“Alderman Campbell is worried that the property will not sell and will be vandalized like Alma College. If the Thames Valley District School Board thought that the designation would have made the school harder to sell, it would have objected. It did not do this and the director, Bill Tucker, indicated that he was fine with the designation.”

As to the fear of re-visiting Alma College, she pointed out: “the city needs to enforce its own property standards bylaws in order to keep that from happening. A more stringent enforcement of these bylaws would be a great tool to prevent the kind of “demolition by neglect” that happened to Alma College.”

Ald. Jeff Kohler joined Campbell in voting against the motion to direct staff to prepare a bylaw designating the property which will be voted on at a later date.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“For months now, the Liberals have tried to hedge their bets in anticipation of the report, showing fear that if they actually level with people they’ll fall in the polls. I believe that if we don’t level with people now, Ontario will fall off a cliff.”

Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek urges Premier Dalton McGuinty to act quickly on the recommendations contained in the Drummond report released Wednesday.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

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