8/22/2012 6:01:00 AM With chamber shuttered, Pistoleros take over Golden Valley Days
Organizing for the Annual Golden Valley Days, shown here in 2008, has been taken over by a new group that’s trying to keep the event alive.
Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa Miner Staff Reporter
Correction: The Miner incorrectly stated that Pisteleros and Roses is a non-profit organization in Wednesday's story about the closing of the Golden Valley Chamber of Commerce. The gunfighters are a not for profit group. All money collected goes to help families, children and veterans of the Golden Valley area.
Golden Valley Days will have a new operator this year. Pistoleros and Roses is trying to keep the valley's annual celebration going following the closing of the Golden Valley Chamber of Commerce in July.
Golden Valley Days is Oct.5 and 6 at Veterans Park at the corner of Chino and Verde roads. Anyone wishing to donate raffle items or money should contact Sheryl Holloway at (928) 234-2049.
Pistoleros and Roses is well-known for its holiday parties where valley children are given toys, prizes and sometimes even a new bicycle.
"We're a nonprofit not for profit organization. All of our funds go to help the children and families in Golden Valley," said "Dancing" Debbie Sue. "We're always looking for something that will help this town. This is a big event for this little town and we're trying to keep it rolling."
According to chamber member Susan Yates, all dues checks for the chamber that were sent in for the 2012 - 2013 fiscal year were returned.
The chamber opened as a nonprofit organization in September 1983.
It has been struggling to pay more than $5,000 in bills after two former chamber presidents allegedly misused funds in 2008 and 2011.
Yates said the chamber was able, with the help of several members pooling money out of their own pockets, to get the debt down to $4,000.
"We were happy to do it," she said in an email to the Miner.
Then they received a bill stating that the chamber needed to pay property taxes for 2011, 2012 and 2013. According to the Mohave County Treasurer's Office they owe more than $2,000. The tax is on the improvements to the property, which includes the chamber building.
"That threw us over the top," Yates said. "So instead of being $4,000 in debt, which was fixable, it was getting closer to $10,000."
The chamber doesn't actually own the land it sits on. It leases the property from the Bureau of Land Management. According to the Treasurer's Office, non-profits can file for an exemption from property taxes but they must do so each year.
She said she reached out to other chambers but got no help.
"There was no way we could resolve this," Yates said. "The towel had to be thrown in."
The chamber's debt problems started in 2009 when former Chamber Board President Patricia Randolph resigned from office.
A third-party audit of the chamber's books in 2010 showed the deposit of a donated certificate of deposit into the chamber's account, three debits from the account for more than $2,000, five credit cards and a debit card. A review of past chamber board meeting minutes reveals no mention of the board granting Randolph permission to cash in the CD or withdraw the money from the account. She denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of theft. The charges were dismissed after Randolph died in January 2011.
The chamber managed to dig out of that debt and put new measures in place to protect its finances.
However, the chamber board found itself back in the red after its new chamber president, Bobbie Case, resigned in June 2011 after a fight with a chamber member at a private party at Lake Mohave.
When the chamber board audited its books, it found a number of discrepancies, including a $500 bill for Internet and phone service from Frontier Communications, a more than $1,000 bill from Staples, a $2,000 bill from Visa and a Walmart credit card that was taken out in the chamber's name, none of which had been approved by the board. It also found the BLM lease payment was overdue.
It appears that most of the purchases were raffle prizes for chamber fundraisers, but the expenses and the past due bills put the chamber back into debt.