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10:53 AM Fri, Dec. 14th

United Way reshapes organization

Changes won't impact beneficiaries in Kingman, officials say

KINGMAN - Representatives from the River Cities United Way say its dispute with another regional office should have no effect on the Kingman United Way office.

"Nothing is going to change in Kingman," said Tamara Wooster, spokeswoman for River Cities United Way. "The dollars raised in each community have always stayed in the community. That has not changed."

RCUW and its satellite office, the United Way of the Colorado River Region, have been at conflict in recent weeks after members of the Colorado River Region board, which covers Laughlin and Bullhead City, accused the RCUW office of a "power grab."

The Colorado River Region office was closed last month. RCUW Marketing Chair Lisa Fuhrman said that the office was closed over legal issues with the lease, but several Colorado River Region board members have characterized the closure as a takeover.

The former director of the Colorado River Region, Peggy Renfro, was fired last month. She has filed a hostile work environment claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and cannot comment on the matter. Eight others on the Colorado River Region board have also resigned over what they call unfair representation, leaving four of the original 12 members.

At issue are how many spots on the board are reserved for each city. The Colorado River Region, previously a satellite office of the United Way of Southern Nevada, was transferred to the RCUW office last year. Wooster explained that at the time, the RCUW's board bylaws did not make any provisions for inclusion of other cities because no other cities were previously involved.

Michael Lipschultz, a former Colorado River Region board member who resigned last week, said that the intent of the arrangement was to have the offices operate separately with a board of directors for each region, which was how the office operated when it was a satellite of Southern Nevada.

Lipschultz said that the two boards were supposed to combine, essentially doubling in size, when dealing with issues that involved both regions. That didn't happen, he said.

"They interpreted things the way they wanted to interpret them and we interpreted the documents the way we interpreted them, which we have backed up with documentation," he said.

He said all the Colorado River Region wanted was for equal representation for each community. He denies Wooster's claim that the other cities had no representation and said representation heavily favored Lake Havasu City.

A committee has since been established by RCUW to serve as a roadmap of sorts on how to establish representation among the cities. Those recommendations are expected in the next 60 to 90 days.

Wooster and Fuhrman both said that the issues between the two offices don't affect the Kingman office, which operates out of the Mohave State Bank on Hualapai Mountain Road.

Kingman and Golden Valley residents can also seek services via a new fund formed after the closure of the Laughlin/Bullhead City United Way office.

The board of directors for the Southern Transit Nevada Transit Coalition, also known as Silver Rider, voted earlier this month to extend their bylaws to create the River Fund, which would serve as a temporary replacement for services previously covered by the Laughlin/Bullhead City office.

"We're like a stop gap measure in the middle," said Debbie Dauenhauer, executive director for Silver Rider.

The River Fund was established with two donations of $10,000 each from the Baptist Hospital and Healthcare Systems Legacy Foundation and the Mohave "From the Heart" Foundation.

The River Fund covers energy assistance and other emergency services for residents of Laughlin, Bullhead City, Mohave Valley, Kingman and Golden Valley.

Dauenhauer said the new River Fund had already provided funds to 11 families in 2-1/2 days. Services are provided out of Silver Rider's office at 260 E. Laughlin Civic Drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, but she encouraged people to call (702) 561-2576 first so they know what paperwork to bring.