To the point week of 12-18-08

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IF THERE IS SUCH A THING AS a “silver lining”, perhaps it was on display at Monday night’s meeting of the Switzerland County School Board.

A little over halfway through the meeting, school board member Virgil McKay and high school teacher Travis Martin gave the board on update on the “Internal Controls Review” that they had completed with the help of the administrative staff.

The review – and more specifically the process that creates it – is a result of the embezzlement of more than $1 million by former corporation treasurer Ann Geyman. Although the Indiana State Board of Accounts sends auditors to review the books of public agencies, when the state did not catch the problem the local school board decided to enact measures to help make sure that this never happens again.

Enter Virgil McKay, who returned home to Switzerland County after retiring from his job where he handled audits and bookkeeping and other functions.

Travis Martin teaches accounting at Switzerland County High School, but has a background with audits and governmental regulations.

The school board enlisted the help of these two men to spearhead a process that created an entirely new series of checks and balances to make sure that each and every dollar can be accounted for.

The result of that work was the creation of the “Internal Controls Review” – which was completed and reported on at Monday night’s meeting.

The findings?

After completing their review, nothing was found that was out of order in any way.

Virgil McKay thanked the administrative staff and corporation treasurer Wilma Swango and her staff for providing such complete and proper work; and Travis Martin also said that the review went very smoothly.

So in the aftermath of the school corporation being taken for such a large amount of money, the “silver lining” that I spoke of is that those losses necessitated the creation of this complete and thorough internal process.

We no longer have to wait two years for the state to tell us everything’s okay – we already know it.

Furthermore, the process that has been designed here is being held up as a model for other school corporations around Indiana for use and consideration.

It is so thorough and so good that the state is telling other school corporations that they should consider adopting the same process.

We may never get back all of the money that Ann Geyman took; but the process that has been created here may just keep another school system from having to go through the same disaster that hit us here.

I think that’s truly a “silver lining” – and we should be thankful that these measures have been put in place to protect our money.

*

If you’ve read the front page of today’s edition, then you know the plight of Ashley Walden. Like the article says, she hasn’t lived here very long, but she’s in trouble and she needs us.

And her family needs us.

There are many times when we read of situations like Ashley’s and we think “that’s terrible, I should do something”, but then we never get around to doing anything.

Especially at this time of the year, when everyone is so busy, time can get past us and suddenly the holidays are over and we’re back at work and it’s January.

Don’t let that happen.

So right now, while it’s fresh in your mind and the address is in your hand: go to your desk and find another Christmas card and sign it and address it and mail it to this little girl who desperately needs to know that we care and that we’re supporting her and praying for her.

While you’re at it, grab a second card and address it to Angela Swanson, c/o George Adams, 330 Green Valley Road, Vevay.

She’s still mending from the results of her auto accident, and she also needs to know that we love her and are praying for her.

It’s hard enough to have a child in the hospital at anytime of the year, but when it’s Christmas it seems like it’s even harder.

I’m not asking you to go out and buy some presents (Although if the spirit hits you, be my guest). I’m asking you to take a minute and sign a card and drop it in the mail.

Actually I’m asking for two cards, so you’re looking at two minutes and 84-cents for two stamps.

That’s not a lot of time or money to help say “Merry Christmas” to a couple of girls who are a part of our community.

There’s an old saying that it is “Better to give than to receive”, and I’m trying my hardest to live that saying this Christmas season.

So come on, join with me. After you finish with those two cards, I bet someone else will come to mind who you might help in some small or big way.

However the spirit moves you, I’m betting that those memories will be the fondest of your Christmas season.