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WOW awarded grants in excess of $500,000

By Staff
Satisfactorily addresses all findings in state audit
By DAN PARSONS
Staff Writer
Having complied with recommendations resulting from a state audit, Windows on the World, a technology hub in Roper in Washington County, has received two grants totaling more than $500,000.
After receiving a $250,000 grant from Golden LEAF in December, the technology center was recently awarded $290,000 by the N.C. General Assembly for a two-year pilot program to establish a wireless broadband network in eastern North Carolina and set up an Internet portal through which people may access information about cities and towns in the eastern part of the state.
With the appropriations, the Roper-based organization has been officially named the technology resource center for the 16 counties in northeastern North Carolina. The announcement follows on the heels of a state audit that uncovered billing and payroll problems within the organization
The organization has satisfactorily addressed all findings of the office of the state auditor concerning internal accounting controls, according to a statement released by Windows on the World.
The audit, conducted in September and released in November, found that “WOW failed to follow established payroll procedures for certain payments to employees.”
Some Windows on the World employees were being paid through a grant from Elizabeth City State University to complete a 21-county broadband Internet study without a contract with the university, the audit found. The center billed ECSU $28,000 for the study. That money was deposited in one of the center’s bank accounts.
Dorenda Gatling, WOW’s chief executive officer, said the $28,000 allocation was not a grant, but a fee for services rendered to the university and the conflict-of-interest policy did not deal with the performance of duties outside regular working hours. The conflict of interest found in a previous audit conducted in March was “specifically related to … the employment of Yurecia Norman (former internal auditor) who was the third cousin of the then-executive director, Larry Norman,” according to Gatling.
The organization was the subject of three other audits in 2007. The state audit was the first of its kind in the agency’s five-year history.