West: Council Member Wants Answers About Recovery Fund

WEST (September 12, 2013)--Tensions are mounting in West almost five months after the deadly fertilizer plant explosion.

Wednesday, the West News published a full page letter to the community by City Councilwoman Cheryl Marak.

Marak says she wrote the letter to try to get things moving faster for residents who are still struggling in the aftermath of the April 17 explosion.

In it, she says, “The citizens of this community deserve to be heard and have their questions answered."

That was in reference to a recent town hall meeting in which she said leaders only took questions from residents that were submitted beforehand.

Marak said she thinks the Long Term Recovery Center is poorly run.

“You can call and leave a message and the call is never returned. A few that do make it past the front door tell them what they need and what they receive is not acceptable,” she wrote.

She says in writing the letter she’s speaking for constituents who call her in tears and in need of help.

The Long Term Recovery Board received $1.7 million in donated funds from the Waco Foundation last week, but she says the question is why the donated funds have taken so long to get into the hands of those who need the money to rebuild or live.

Board member John Crowder, the pastor of First Baptist West says the board has worked hard since May to set guidelines to distribute the funds, but each time the board came up with a plan, members found it didn't line up with federal or other laws.

He said now that the money has finally been handed over to the LRT board, it could be only weeks before the first financial help could be awarded.

Another $1 million in donations is deposited in two West banks and has not been given to the LTR Board.

LTRC Executive Director Karen Bernsen said nearly 60 claims have been processed out of 411 submitted.

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