On Tuesday members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding waited to hear from Mary Jo Thompson and Russell Tarry, two employees of the WV Development office who were involved with RISE WV. When the meeting started committee members were informed they wouldn’t be there, another member of commerce let them know both had turned in their resignation on Friday.
“I wish they would spend as much time building peoples homes as they spent avoiding speaking to the legislature,” said Delegate Kayla Kessinger.
The committee did get a chance to hear the legislative auditors report on the program that was released on Sunday. Governor Jim Justice responded to a claim in the report that questioned if RISE WV had completed a single home, saying “The Legislative Auditor is wrong.” General James Hoyer stuck by the Governor’s claim that homes were being built.
“My folks have confirmed that there are houses on the ground,” said Hoyer.
Another question on committee member’s minds, why is the state negotiating a new contract with Horne LLP..
“I do have a lot of questions regarding the Horne contract and whether or not it is prudent to renegotiate and continue to enter into a contract with an organization that have failed on what they said they were going to help us do,” said Kessinger.
According to the auditor’s report, Horne has invoiced the development office for over 1.4 million dollars for services under an invalid agreement, they were also paid 96,000 dollars under an illegal contract. Hoyer supports the Governor’s idea to stay with the company moving forward.
“I think they’ve got some value going forward we just have to sort out all those pieces,” said Hoyer.
For now General Hoyer and RISE WV are moving forward, trying to help those left behind.