Allegations made about illegal use of the county’s Tax ID number fired up members of the Bynum Volunteer Fire Department.
Department member Pat Whitehorn told the Panola County Board of Supervisors that she was selected to respond to the accusations because she has served as the department’s accountant since 1988.
"I realize it was said that we at Bynum gained access to the Tax ID number illegally, but we did not," she said. "The number came to us from an employee in County Administrator David Chandler’s office.
"Despite what he said, Mr. Chandler had knowledge of our use of the number to get a $40,000 grant," Whitehorn said.
Whitehorn said the grant was not sent to the county to be disbursed back to the department because Panola County was not listed on the grant.
"There is no mention of Panola County anywhere on this grant," she said.
Whitehorn said the allegations that the money might not have been used for the right reasons were also unfounded.
"I have invoices for everything we purchased using the grant money," she said. "I even prepared the county a copy of it.
"Our assistant chief brought every piece of equipment with him except for the new hose," Whitehorn added. "So if you want to take a look at any of it, you can see for yourself."
Supervisor president Jerry Perkins said the board never meant to imply the money may have been mis-spent.
"We knew the money had been spent right, we just needed something we could show to the audit department," he said. "Now we have copies of the invoices and we can do just that."
Chandler said the main reason the audit came about was due to the use of the Tax ID number.
"The county has to be able to show where the money went and what it was used for when the audit department gets here," he said. "But I can take the records you have given us and make things work.
"We have everything we need to solve the problems now," Chandler said.
"I just want to say that allegations have been made against Bynum for the last year and a half," Whitehorn said. "I am tired of the innuendos and mud-slinging against the fire department.
"We have one of the best fire departments in the county," she said.
Supervisor Robert Avant said the county appreciated the work of the volunteer fire departments and hopes this will clear everything up.
"I think we can correct the problem we had and everything will be able to move forward," he said.