The Beaver County Board of Commissioners has sent a Cease and Desist letter to the Beaver County Partnership for Community and Economic Development, threatening to withdraw support for the fledgling organization if dramatic changes to its mission and structure are not made immediately. The Commissioners’ letter raises questions about the propriety of the organization, and comes at a time when the Partnership has been positioning itself toward helping to obtain part of $75 million in funding that is being made available by the state for projects in the region.

The Beaver County Partnership for Community and Economic Development (the Partnership) was born at the end of last year, designed to serve as a partnership between the public and private sectors to help leverage the multi-billion-dollar investment being made in the county by Shell Chemical. Among the organizations to be represented as part of the partnership include the Beaver County Board of Commissioners, Beaver County Corporation for Economic Development, Beaver County Redevelopment Authority and the Beaver County Chamber of Commerce.

[Founding directors of the Partnership include Charles “Skip Homan” (Larson Design), Valerie McElvy (Franklin Center), Tim Wetzel (Bridgeworks, LLC), John Hayward (Michael Baker/Robert Morris University (retired)), Rebecca Matsco (Leaders Serving Beaver County), Dr. Chris Reber (Community College of Beaver County), Jack Manning (Beaver County Chamber of Commerce), Norm Mitry (Heritage Valley Health System), Mario Leone (Monaca Borough Manager, Brusters), Jim Palmer (Beaver County Corporation for Economic Development), and Bethany Williams (City of Beaver Falls Community Development). Commissioner Sandie Egley serves as the Board of Commissioners’ representative to the Partnership.]

The Partnership has been holding working meetings focused on structuring itself as an organization; its next board meeting is scheduled for this coming Tuesday. But according to a Cease and Desist letter signed by all three County Commissioners late this afternoon, the organization’s future now appears to be in jeopardy.

“The Beaver County Board of Commissioners writes this letter to inform you that we do not support nor do we condone the recent actions of this Partnership,” wrote Commissioners. “Moreover, we do not concur with the direction in which the Partnership is proceeding.”

The letter does not specify which recent actions of the partnership the Commissioners do not support.

The Commissioners go on to quote a section of the Partnership’s original mission statement, “The group is comprised of a cross-section of Beaver County’s population which seeks to help the County continue to facilitate growth. The Partnership would be a visionary body that strives to develop and present growth strategies along with the County and its agencies […] Recommendations developed by the Partnership should be presented to the Commissioners for concurrence. Any grant funding involved should be funneled through the County. Implementation should occur through existing and approved County or community entities.”

The Cease and Desist letter from the county informs other members of the Partnership of specific demands which must be met for the Board to continue having a relationship with the organization, “While the Board of County Commissioners was in agreement with this original concept, it is apparent that the Partnership has strayed significantly from it. Consequently, the Board of Commissioners insists that the Partnership be restructured so that the Partnership Board members are selected and appointed by the Board of County Commissioners as is done with other boards associated with the County and that it be established as originally intended. In the event that the Partnership does not accept this change, we will direct all County departments and staff to cease all participation in activities of the Partnership immediately. Further, we will notify [the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development] that the County in no way supports the Partnership.”

The letter does not specifically state how the organization has “strayed significantly” from its original mission statement.

Beaver County Chamber of Commerce President Jack Manning, who also serves as a Director for the Partnership, told the Beaver Countian he received a copy of the Cease and Desist letter late this afternoon.

“I thought the Commissioners were on-board and engaged. I read the letter, the Partnership was supposed to have a board meeting on Tuesday, I am clueless about this,” said Manning. “I have no clue what the genesis of this letter is, something must have happened that got them sideways, they haven’t spoken to any of us about this.”

Manning went on to say that he believes the Partnership could function without the Commissioners’ involvement, but stressed that the organization’s purpose was to become a one-stop-shop for economic development in the county.

“Our preference is to have everybody in the tent,” said Manning. “We never wanted to impinge on somebody else’s responsibility. [Beaver County Community and Economic Development] has a role with things like brownfield redevelopment, that’s fine, the Planning & Redevelopment Board have their role and we’re not trying to do their job either, Commissioners have their job, the County Tourism Department has theirs — we’re just trying to get all of these organizations on the same page and aligned together […] I truly have zero insight into what promulgated this, I am thoroughly clueless.”

Sources within county government told the Beaver Countian that private meetings between some Partnership Board members and developers played a role.

The Beaver Countian has obtained copies of minutes from Partnership Board meetings. The documents — marked “Confidential – Internal Use Only” — detail private meetings held by individual members of the Partnership Board that resulted in financial donations being collected by the organization from local developers Pat Nardelli (Castlebrook Development) and CJ Betters (C.J. Betters Enterprises / Bet-Tech Construction), along with Norman Mitry (Heritage Valley). Sources tell the Beaver Countian that monies collected from the local businessmen were to fund a matching grant the organization was seeking to obtain from the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development. The minutes note that the organization was seeking to determine if it could apply for the grant directly from the state instead of going through county government.

Other items in the minutes speak of additional organizations which were seeking to become financially involved with the Partnership, “The Beaver County Foundation can provide accounting for this Partnership and can set up a separate fund in their Foundation for our Partnership. They are, however, unable to provide funding from other existing funds to this Partnership.”

The minutes also detail $75 million in loans and grants that may be made available from the state for projects in the region that the Partnership could pursue, “Money is available for projects that ‘have merit.’ The wish list needs to be developed fairly quickly, and there needs to be some detail in order to prepare applications.”

Ironically, the minutes also reveal that Shell Chemical declined an invitation to join the Beaver County Partnership for Community and Economic Development.

In its letter to the Partnership, the Board of Commissioners directed the organization to submit documents for its review, including any articles of incorporation, financial statements, details of all funds received and the current location of those funds, and copies of any contracts the organization may have entered into.

“Upon review of these documents and acquiescence therewith, we will appoint members to the Board of the Partnership,” wrote County Commissioners. “Thereafter, we will set a date and time for a meeting. Until then, no further business should be conducted.”

Chamber of Commerce President Jack Manning told the Beaver Countian that the Partnership still intends to hold a meeting of its Board on Tuesday as scheduled. “Although given this letter, I suspect the meeting’s agenda will be changing,” he said.

Beaver County Commissioners declined public comment for this report.

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John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

27 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t know what all that mumbo jumbo means but to me it sounds like a fancy way to steal money and skim the taxpayers and citizens. It sounds like English turned into Chinese and the back to English again.
    You can bet if the Beaver County Corporation for Economic Development, Beaver County Redevelopment Authority and the Beaver County Chamber of Commerce is involved they are holding their hand out for something, or more like just aligning themselves for just taking it.

     
  2. Not happy about this at all the board of commmissions needs to do its job and not impede developement in any way but i as a tax payer i am also unhappy with at least one of the members of the partnership who has for years did everything in their power to stop any developement in my opine

     
  3. Good job commissioners. I’m glad you put a stop to this before things got completely out of hand. It didn’t take long to bring the usual suspects together to fleece as much grant money as possible. Skip Homan, really, Baker fired him years ago.

     
  4. The usual suspects eh? CJB and Nardelli own the valley. This is strictly for them (fat cats) to get government funding for the participants own goals and screw the county and the taxpayers. Can’t wait to read the hard hitting piece Davidson does about this for Sunday front page. Yeah, right. They’re so clueless at the times. Why is there no average Joe on this committee? Can’t keep thieves secrets probably. Kudos to ALL three commissioners for standing up to these Beaver Oligarchs. They have ripped us off long enough. Maybe they need to purchase some more land after it is rehabbed by the DCED, eh CJB?

     
    • You hit the nail on the head equalizer. Why not average Joe’s or Josie’s on that board? There are a lot of people in both the public and private sectors that would do a great job on that board. Unfortunately they are not connected to the machine.

       
  5. Sorry, or average Josie too!! Did not mean to be a sexist or any of the other bad words we use to describe people we disagree with.

     
  6. If Royal Dutch Shell or the State wants to sign on with grant money … It should never be handed over to any non-profit/non tax paying entity or a Manning, Betters, Valerie McElvy or any of those mentioned above. Tourism ? come on! A visionary body that strives to develop and present growth strategies along with the County and its agencies…. How about some tax relief for the citizens of the decaying county.

     
  7. Very bluntly, this county better get it’s act together and move past the “Industrial Messiah” attitude with this Shell plant. Everything revolves around Shell saving the day in every community. If Penney’s closes at the mall, that facility will dry up and be shut down. Those workers that are coming here will be taking their paychecks to Robinson, to Cranberry, to Pittsburgh because they want something aside from high school sports, consignment stores and a cheap fish sammich at a local bar. We have no restaurants, no night life, no retail, no entertainment aside from sniping at our local politicians. They are going come here, work, get paid, leave and come back only to eat and shit before the next day. And looking at our tax structure and amenities in the county, communities and schools don’t expect the permanent employees to all be living in Be’er Cahnty. Some of these people won’t mind commuting more than 5 miles to their job.

     
  8. Well well what do we have here hmmmmm.

    Sounds like ol Jack was trying to form a spin off of what we already have in this county. Can’t believe C.E.D got wrangled up in this.

    Ok. Ya gotz ur
    Community development
    C.E.D
    Redevelopment authority
    Planning commission
    Tourism

    So he thought he could get that all under one roof hmmmmm

    This sounds to me like B.I.G
    Yah that beaver initiative for growth

    Seems like few of same players are involved too.

    The premise and thought is in for front may seem okay but really this is an ego envisioning mess, thats being masked to create a really nice paying job for somebody and create work for few private sector people involved on the board.

    Atleast consult Mike Veon since you’re trying to replicate his idea, he can assist in the right and wrongs.

    Only in BEAVER COUNTY

     
  9. @ Raven

    This isn’t government for the most part, it’s private sector thieves trying to rape the government. Lol

    @ Jimmy balls
    You not lying , I can see communities getting funding to improve towns, but not private sector

     
    • Not per se. But these movers and shakers become a de facto part of it by what they do. Chuckie Cheez isn’t either, technically, but he pulls some of the strings. Actually, there is no division. Some are elected, that’s all.

       
  10. So i think i am understanding the partnership can’t have any state funding unless the money passes through the county….is this correct? If so, by the time the county gets done there probably won’t be much of anything left.

     
  11. This is an example of the inter-workings of the “usual suspects” who stick it to the public without us being aware we’re getting screwed… again. Who knows how often this “legal robbery” has happened in our corner of the world? Move along, there’s nothing to see here. But even Shell won’t touch this. They aren’t the Droids you’re looking for.

    Kudos to the Commissioners for refusing to go along and to JP for reporting it to the public. I’m sure these documents marked “Confidential – Internal Use Only” that were “leaked” contain interesting and informative reading. These leaks ARE real, regardless of Trump’s pouting that “the news is fake because so much of the news is fake, believe me. Very fake news.”

     
  12. Putting a fresh coat of paint and fancy name on a shithouse doesn’t make it stink any less! The usual suspects at the taxpayers trough to steal whatever they can if no one is paying attention. Thank you JP but be careful, these are rough customers who don’t like publicity. I wouldn’t trust any of those bastards in this group with a turd let alone taxpayers cash. Stealing and corruption is much easier if they can stay below the radar. Not to worry though, as I noted above Chief Cub Reporter Davidson is doing a thorough undercover investigation into this mess. NOT! Not a word in the Times today unless you like mindless sports scores or useless mind numbing Scott Tady’s drivel and worship of so called entertainers. The tale of a quality newspaper is the relevant local news and corruption and not who gives a damn about being lulled into a false sense of “all is well in the county”. Sundays’ front page section was totally useless for people who want real news. Kids reading books, (isn’t that what the go to school for?) Do your damn job Times!

     
  13. I bet the county agencies like CED Redev and Tourism felt threatened. Poisoned the naive commissioners. Shell came on its own. NOBODY or NO GOVT AGENCY was in prior contact with them. It was a complete surprise and I bet and all these Pope’s ball NGO are trying to prove they are relevant; they aren’t!

     
  14. All of this money flying around and a 17% property tax increase approved for 2017?

    And more recently a $5 fee tacked onto every annual vehicle registration…That goes to BEAVER COUNTY…????

    All of this greed is being attracted to the Shell plant that is going to come in and destroy the local area. Our children have to breathe in asthma inducing, cancer causing chemicals. We have to put up with all the bullshit traffic/lights/noise…FOR WHAT GAIN??? An increase in taxes????

    When are we going to publicly protest all that is going on lately?

    Take our towns back!

     
  15. This is concerning because I have a feeling none of these people on the council know what makes a community grow economically. There should be an outside consultant group giving recommendations. Why is there not a representation of people with a stake affordable housing, parks, or transportation – all pillars of a successful community. Has anyone discussed workforce development in tech and innovation, you know, the sectors that will be around when Shell leaves? Why do I have a feeling this money will go to another strip mall with three nail salons and a bar rather than rebuilding and revitalizing waterfronts or downtown storefronts of the communities that have been blighted over the past several decades. Sigh….

     
  16. They cant wait to get there thieving hands on that money, From certain people in the Beaver county Med Center on down, Read the names. The whole infrastructure here in Beaver County has a case of terminal greed

     
  17. Until the people of Beaver COUNTY stop acting like sheep they will be governed by wolves. And the irony is most of the wolves don’t even have the intellect of morons. They will drain Beaver County until nothing is left.

     

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