Local News

Hoke County Citizens Upset Over Money Management

Posted June 16, 2001

— A big mistake is costing several programs in Hoke County heavily. County Manager Bernice McPhatter apparently mismanaged over $93,000, and it is affecting a lot of people.

In July of 1999, the Governor's Crime Commission gave two grants to the Sheriff's Office totalling more than $93,000. The money was supposed to go toward patrol cars, equipment and a drug task force. But the Sheriff's office never received it.

As owner of the Willow Trace mobile home park, Shelley Wray wishes they had.

"There were just a lot of problems. People were afraid to come out of their homes at night. These people were carrying guns. We had a drive-by shooting," she says.

But thanks to a Community Watch program, things here are much quieter now.

The area has seen it's fair share of drug related crime, and Wray believes the extra funding could have been used to beef up police presence around Willow Trace.

"We don't have that today. We don't have it because of the mismanagement of those funds," she says.

McPhatter could not be reached for comment, but her brother, Cleo Bratcher, who is Chairman of Hoke County Commissioners, says she is sorry for the mistake, but is ready to to move on.

"The money wasn't taken out of the bank. It was put in some places that it shouldn't have gone," he says. "She's glad this stuff is behind us. We can move forward and do the jobs we were hired and elected to do."

Bratcher says the grant money plus interest will be returned to the state by early next week. Meanwhile, Wray and other concerned citizens held a news conference Saturday at 11:00 a.m. on Main Street in Raeford, and called for McPhatter's resignation.

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