State park investigation "on-going"

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By Robin Bass

The Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet is conducting an administrative investigation into the operations at Taylorsville Lake State Park, said Misty Dugger Judy, personnel counsel for the Office of Legal Affairs.

Seasonal employee Roseann Smith said that earlier this year, she and other park employees were questioned about various park procedures. Among the long list of topics discussed, Smith was asked if she had any knowledge of state credit cards being used for personal purchases; if any time cards had been falsified; and if she knew of any misappropriation of grant funds intended for trail improvement at the park.

Former Park Manager Brian Pharis, who resigned in a letter dated Feb. 26, said Monday that he was not aware of any investigation involving Taylorsville Lake State Park. 

“I resigned for other job opportunities as it states in my letter,” said Pharis. “Beyond that, I refer all other questions to my attorney.”

The Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet admitted there was an administrative investigation after the Spencer Magnet filed an open records request March 19. Documents requested consisted of:

• Pharis’ resignation letter;

• information pertaining to an internal investigation performed by the Kentucky Department of Parks, and/or other state agencies;

• any conclusions, recommendation or penalties associated with that investigation;

• documentation pertaining to any misuse or misappropriation of funds at Taylorsville Lake State Park; and

• credit card statements revealing any personal, unauthorized or inappropriate purchases.

The only document released was Pharis’ resignation letter.

“I am unable to provide documents related to your other requests because these records are part of an on-going administrative investigation,” stated Judy.

She anticipated that the administrative investigation being conducted by the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet would be completed within three to six weeks.