Funds to open pool OK’d; MYCAP chief fired


By DAVID SKOLNICK

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A state agency gave preliminary approval to use federal stimulus funds to pay for opening the city-owned North Side Pool and for Youngstown’s summer youth recreation programs.

The Ohio Department of Development’s Office of Community Services expects to give final approval Monday to the request from the Mahoning-Youngstown Community Action Partnership, said Kimberly Perfect, an ODOD spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, the MYCAP board has fired Richard A. Roller II as its executive director. Roller was on unpaid administrative leave since mid-April. The suspension came after the agency received sharp criticism from ODOD’s Office of Community Services.

Youngstown City Councilman Demaine Kitchen, also a member of the MYCAP Board of Directors, confirmed that Roller was terminated at the board’s May 14 meeting.

Kitchen said that because of the ODOD investigation, the board believed it was in the best interests of the agency to terminate Roller’s employment.

The board placed Roller on unpaid administrative leave in April in the wake of an investigation by ODOD into whether the nonprofit organization misappropriated funds and resources while he was its leader.

In January, ODOD issued a preliminary report on its review of MYCAP financial records and outlined possible misuse of funds, nepotism, conflict of interest and a number of other issues, including weatherization work done at Roller’s home.

Representatives of ODOD’s Office of Community Services met Friday in Columbus with MYCAP officials to discuss a request to change how the Youngstown-based agency could spend portions of the $1,192,643 it received in federal stimulus package funding. In particular, MYCAP wants to provide about $300,000 to fund the city’s summer recreation programs and to keep the North Side Pool operating.

MYCAP “submitted the necessary documentation” to justify the request, an ODOD spokesman said. “We’re working to expedite the process. We let the board and staff know that we expect to approve the [changes] and have the process done by Monday.”

That is wonderful news, said Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams.

“It’s great for the community,” he said. “We’re pleased. I want to thank the board members and staff of MYCAP and express my appreciation to the state officials.”

Without the state’s approval the summer programs would have been canceled and the pool wouldn’t have opened. Because of a budget shortfall, the city eliminated funding for the pool and the programs.

The city plans to hire staff and have the programs begin and the pool open by Wednesday as scheduled, Williams said. There is a chance that could be delayed by a day or two, he said.

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