The Wilkes County commissioners unanimously approved releasing total funds budgeted for the Blue Ridge Opportunity Commission (BROC) in 2021-22, which is $56,815, during their Oct. 5 meeting.

BROC Director Dare Stromer came to the meeting seeking the first quarter portion ($14,203), but Commissioner Keith Elmore asked that the non-profit be approved for receiving its full amount for the fiscal year. Earlier, the commissioners agreed to allocate the funds incrementally after an issue involving misuse of a BROC credit card arose.

A motion to approve 14,203 for BROC was amended to include the full appropriation after Elmore spoke up.

In July, the North Wilkesboro Police Department charged a former employee of BROC with nine counts of obtaining property by false pretenses.

The former employee was charged with using a credit card from BROC’s senior nutrition program to make various unauthorized purchases totaling $37,082 in expenditures while she was employed by BROC.

Stromer said during the Oct. 5 meeting that corrective action had been taken and this would never happen again.

She said the illegally spent funds were from BROC fundraisers and not government or grant funds because senior nutrition expenses must be paid in advance and then be reimbursed.

BROC’s senior nutrition program includes the Meals on Wheels service.

Stromer said more volunteer delivery drivers are needed to add people on a waiting list for this service. They are reimbursed 45 cents per mile for gas.

She noted that volunteers delivering the meals are the only people some Meals on Wheels clients see some days. BROC meals on wheels currently serves about 200 people.

Stromer said BROC assists people in a variety of other ways, including when their power is about to be cut off and when they need help putting food on the table.

She thanked the commissioners for their support and said Wilkes County government has helped fund BROC since 1966. The agency also gets state and federal funds.

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