Huntington councilman resigns amid microgrant controversy
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A Huntington city council member has resigned amid a controversy that surfaced at a council meeting Monday.
The city announced Dale Anderson, who has represented District 9 since January 2020, resigned Friday morning.
At a special meeting Friday night, that had been scheduled prior to Anderson’s resignation, council members voted to file a complaint with the West Virginia Ethics Commission regarding an accusation made against him.
At Monday night’s Huntington city council meeting, Guyandotte Neighborhood Association president Billy Wray said Anderson had encouraged the association to apply for his microgrants to purchase signs for the neighborhood in June, but he said those signs were never delivered.
He also says Anderson approached the group about grant funding for streetlight hardware for hanging Christmas decorations, and a microgrant of around $1,800 was issued.
“I believe we’ve been the alleged victim of theft,” Wray told council members.
Anderson was not present at that meeting Monday night.
Wray said the neighborhood group was awarded a microgrant of nearly $3,000 to buy signs to be put up at the entrances of Guyandotte this summer, and those funds were spent at Mountain State Strategies, a business Anderson suggested.
Wray said he’s been unable to get a straight answer about why the signs haven’t materialized.
The vote at the special meeting Friday night to file a complaint with the Ethics Commission was unanimous.
“We want to turn it over to the proper authorities to make sure that not just due process is followed, but that we have accountability and transparency,” Council Chair Holly Mount told WSAZ.
Mount says moving forward, microgrants will fall under the rules and ethics committee.
“The microgrant program is so amazing,” she said. “Such wonderful things come out of it. It’s a shame this has happened. However, what we can do moving forward to make sure it doesn’t happen again is provide additional oversight.”
The prosecuting attorney’s office is investigating.
The owner of Mountain State Strategies, Michael Dillon, tells WSAZ he feels the matter has been blown out of proportion and maintains they’ve done nothing unethical or illegal.
He says they’ve reached out to the city attorney to coordinate refunding the microgrant money and donating the signs to the city. He says they’re trying to make sure everyone is happy, and the community is satisfied.
WSAZ’s message Friday to Mr. Anderson has not been returned.
Anyone wanting to be considered to fill the vacant seat on City Council can pick up an application at the city clerk’s office beginning next Monday through Tuesday, December 6th.
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