Dental coalition board votes to continue operation

Organization to form fund-raising plan for financial recovery at Saturday meeting

The Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition board has voted to stay in existence and move forward toward recovering from financial ruin that threatened to end the service organization.

At a meeting Tuesday, the dental coalition board pledged its support to executive director Debi Garoutte in her effort to find a way to save the non-profit organization and has scheduled a meeting Saturday to determine how to recoup its losses and reorganize.

"The board voted to move forward," Garoutte said. "We've scheduled a four-hour meeting on Saturday to define a plan of action."

The dental coalition was the reported victim of embezzlement, according to court documents, and last month saw its executive director of almost two years arrested on charges of theft. Robin McKenzie, 36, faces misdemeanor and felony charges of theft after it was alleged she embezzled more than $30,000 from the coalition and approximately $340 from Moffat County Partners, which McKenzie joined after leaving the dental coalition in March.

McKenzie is being held in the Moffat County Public Safety Center jail on a $20,000 bond. She is due in court for a preliminary hearing on April 23.

The coalition has already received donations from a few residents, allowing the organization's phone to be reconnected, Garoutte said.

"Some citizens made a couple of generous donations to help us get back on our feet," she said. "We're now looking at how to pursue a fund-raising effort we looked at a couple of ideas at (Tuesday's) meeting, but this is something that can't be done in one hour. The four hours on Saturday will allow us to really look at our options."

The matter of how to pay the $9,003 debt owed to Bank of Colorado because of McKenzie's alleged attempt to pay a coalition debt with Partner's funds is almost finalized, coalition board co-President Cheryl Ivy said.

"What we're looking into is having (the Bank of Colorado) write up a loan in the name of the dental coalition," she said. "The individual board members wouldn't be held responsible for the money, it would deal with the coalition. Mark (Harmon, manager of Bank of Colorado,) is going to draw up the loan and the board and our lawyer will review it."

The coalition's legal counsel is Craig city attorney Sherman Romney.

One board member of the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition resigned her position at Tuesday's meeting and a new member joined. Deb Bacon, a school nurse in the Steamboat Springs School District, left and Elaine Sullivan of Craig was voted to the board.

"Deb's only been able to make two meetings in the last year and a half," Ivy said. "It was just too much for her

schedule."

More members could be added because other people have shown an interest in joining the board, Ivy said.

The plan of action and fund-raising decisions that will be made Saturday are part of the coalition's efforts to receive its allotted funding for 2002. The Moffat and Routt County United Way offices have delayed awarding their allocations, which total $24,000, until the coalition has met several organizational and financial restructuring

requirements.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.