Meetings watch: Eastern Plains Council of Governments

During a Wednesday meeting, the Eastern Plains Council of Governments board of directors:

• Heard a presentation on USDA rural development programs. There are a variety of loan and grant programs available to rural communities which can help finance everything from water, waste water and solid waste to needed community facilities such as day care and convalescent centers, jails, fire departments and more, according to USDA representatives.

• Approved financial reports for November through January. Finance director Laura Thompson said there were no issues and finances through the three-month period were within normal expectations.

• Heard a report from Interim Director Sandy Chancey that EPCOG has obtained a line of credit from its bank for up to $50,000. Chancey said the state recently told EPCOG it is responsible for $29,000 that was not covered by insurance after the 2008 embezzlement of $145,000 by former employee Lori Howard, who is now serving a 10-year prison sentence.

Chancey said EPCOG will use the credit line to repay the money due and will also purchase some needed office equipment. The credit payment will be made from EPCOG revenue, which is drawn from member dues.

• Heard from Chancey that two employees laid off in connection with programs that lost funding have been rehired. She said there are two more positions to be filled, a finance person and a wind energy specialist, then EPCOG will be at full staffing levels.

— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson