By Chad Nesbitt
Skyland – Members of the Skyland Fire Department’s board confirmed to the Leader Tuesday night (Feb. 26) that an investigation had been conducted into the past financial dealings of the fire department’s administration. The investigation was headed up by former Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore.
Questionable dealings have been reported
Last year the Leader broke the story about former Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene giving the Skyland Fire Department $1 million, and according to the Buncombe County Commissioners they never voted on it and had no idea Greene gave Skyland the money.
Even though the fire department receives over $6 million a year from the county former Skyland Chief Dennis Pressley said, “We needed that extra money to make payroll.”
In our investigation, the Leader reported that an employee of the Skyland Fire Department, who is also a board member at the Riceville Fire Department, facilitated a $150,000 transfer of money from the Riceville Fire Department to Skyland. According to board members of the Riceville Fire Department at the time, they had no idea the money was given to Skyland.
Skyland board sources told the Leader that the fire stations credit cards were maxed out and that a local Advance Auto had stopped their credit.
What’s happening now?
The Leader attended Skyland’s February 2019 board meeting, and significant changes have been made. What was once a meeting of only the board members has now become a meeting of the board members and Skyland’s employees. The meeting was packed and was held in a large conference room instead of the small building detached from the fire department.
New people have also been elected to the board, and former Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore and local attorney David Uchiyama have been hired. Board Chairman Scott Hart said the attorneys have been hired to “investigate past financial dealings” at Skyland and to “help put measures in place so shortfalls will not happen again.”
Former Skyland Chief Dennis Presley’s wife and daughter did work for the department and do the accounting for Skyland and other fire departments. Hart said, “Both have resigned,” but did not elaborate why.
Discussed at the meeting were fundraising ideas to enhance the fire department and its employees. The meeting then went into executive session to hear the report from former district attorney Moore.
This is an ongoing story.