Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Three receivers protect center

Dueling boards agree to setup during court battle

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - Three receivers will protect the assets of the closed Northern Kentucky Community Center as two boards wage a legal battle for control of the Eastside landmark.

Until a judge decides which group represents the non-profit agency, the opposing boards have agreed to split the insurance costs for the historic building at 824 Greenup St., attorneys for the two sides said Monday.

State Rep. Arnold Simpson, a Covington Democrat; John Henderson, president of Wilberforce University near Xenia, Ohio, the oldest historically black private college in the United States; and a third person to be named by Simpson and Henderson will serve as co-receivers, attorneys for both sides said Monday.

The three will be charged with securing the center, housed in the former Lincoln Grant School that served Northern Kentucky's African-American population in the days of segregation. The receivers will be the only ones allowed to remove financial records from the debt-ridden center's headquarters.

Last week, Kenton Circuit Judge Gregory Bartlett appointed Simpson temporary receiver of the center, after members of the reorganized board filed a lawsuit seeking Simpson's appointment. Before Monday's hearing to name a permanent receiver, the reorganized board agreed to the original board's request to choose a second receiver.

"This is one of the first steps toward getting the center reopened," said Eastside neighborhood leader Bennie Doggett. "It's been a long time coming."

Doggett represents a center board that formed last June after the original board split over the firing of Executive Director Rollins Davis and Board President Clifford Cooper for mismanagement. The lawsuit filed by the center's reorganized board of directors asks the court to order Davis and Cooper to turn over all center records and reimburse any missing funds.

Davis and Cooper denied misusing center funds. Davis said Monday that he's put $50,000 in deferred salary and contributions into the center since 2001, while Cooper said he's put "$50,000 plus" into the center.

Since February, a Kentucky State Police unit specializing in white-collar crime has been examining the agency's financial records.

Members of the reorganized board have said they want to restore the center to its glory days of the 1970s, '80s and early '90s, when the social service agency provided everything from child care and food programs to activities for seniors.

Cooper said the original board wants to convert the building into 33 apartments for senior citizens and provide youth services and community education.


E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com

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