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MEEKER — When looking at the finances, Steve Wix thought the numbers didn’t add up.
Turns out he may be right.
Wix, president of the Rio Blanco County Historical Society, which operates the White River Museum, said, after what he called repeated stalling by former treasurer Shelly Flannery, it came to light she was allegedly using the non-profit group’s funds for personal use.
Wix said Flannery resisted numerous requests to turn over financial records until the organization threatened to contact law enforcement.
Wix said Flannery, who served as historical society treasurer for a year and half, repaid about $7,300 in July, but he claims another $7,000 was still missing, including a check for $3,100 to a caterer last fall.
Wix said the board voted to fire Flannery “a couple of months ago.”
“She used our money to pay for a lot of personal stuff,” Wix said.”She was pretty smooth.”
Wix said, as time went by, he grew more uncomfortable with how Flannery, who lives in Craig, was handling her treasurer duties.
“It was just lie after lie for months,” he said. “The alarms went off back in January, but I just couldn’t get her to come in. There was a lot of missing money.”
Wix said the board has voted to pursue prosecution of Flannery.
“But that’s up to the district attorney,” Wix said. “It’s in their hands. Anthony Mazzola (former investigator for the Rio Blanco Sheriff’s Department now with the district attorney’s office) has been investigating it. He did make contact with her, I heard, but I don’t know what came of that.”
Mazzola’s replacement with the sheriff’s department, Rangely Patrol Sgt. Roy Kinney, will take over all ongoing investigations. Mazzola said the case could eventually end up with the district attorney’s office, if charges are filed.
“The sheriff’s office is assisting the Meeker Police Department with an investigation involving the Historical Society,” said Mike Joos, Rio Blanco County Undersheriff.
Though she lives in Craig, Flannery is executive director for Routt County Habitat for Humanity in Steamboat Springs.
Reached by phone, Flannery declined to comment other than to say, “Until I can talk to the investigator and find out what they are saying, then I have no comment.”
Wix said the loss of money has been a hardship on the historical society and the museum.
“We don’t have the money to cover a loss like that,” he said. “We scramble for every penny we get. She (Flannery) was not a very good steward of the museum’s funds and now we are in a very tight spot with money.”
Wix has assumed the treasurer’s duties for now.
“I am the acting treasurer now, until the first of the year when we will hold an election of officers,” he said.
Wix said the board has instituted new financial and bookkeeping practices to safeguard against something like this happening in the future. He said he wanted to assure donors and members that their investment in the museum and the historical society is safe.
“We’re going to have to be more careful now,” he said. “We have more checks and balances.”
Wix said it was a hard lesson to learn.
“We trusted her completely,” he said of the former historical society treasurer.