Bryan County LVAP Funds: Timeline

  • 1995: LVAP law enacted in the state of Georgia.

    • Note: Bryan County did not have a certified victim service agency until The Cottage opened it's doors in 2018; therefore, Bryan County's LVAP funds were diverted to the DA's office (refer to the CJCC guidelines above). 

  • July 12, 2018: Opened the doors to The Cottage in Richmond Hill.

  • August 8, 2018: President of the Board of Directors for non-profit met with the Chair of the Bryan County Commissioners, Carter Infinger, the Bryan County Administrator, Ben Taylor, and the Bryan County Finance Director, John Rauback and placed formal request for county's LVAP funds. They informed the President of the Board that The Cottage could not have those funds because "those funds belong to the DA's office."

  • October 15, 2018: Board of Directors sent written, formal request for the Bryan County LVAP funds to the Bryan County Commissioners. See email below. No response was received. 

  • October 22, 2018: Board of Directors sent follow-up email to the Bryan County Commissioners. when no response had been received a week after initial email was sent. No response was received to that follow-up email. 

  • October 23, 2018 at 9:21am: Vice President of Board of Directors sent an email to the Chairman of the Bryan County Commissioners, Carter Infinger, inquiring as to why our organization had not been given a portion of the Bryan County LVAP funds. Chairman Infinger did not respond to her via email. Instead, he called her directly and informed her that the Sheriff and the District Attorney decided where victims receive services, and the Sheriff had decided to send victims out of county for services after our organization's request for LVAP funding had been received. Chairman Infinger further informed her that our Board of Directors would be receiving a letter from an attorney communicating this within the next two weeks. 

  • October 23, 2018 at 5:02pm: An email was sent to Ben Taylor, the Bryan County Administrator, attempting to verify what the Vice President of our Board of Directors had been told. We received no response to this email. 

  • October 24, 2018: Board of Directors sent follow-up email and letter to the Bryan County Commissioners informing them that Chairman Infinger had informed a member of the Board of Directors that the Sheriff had decided to send victims out of county for services after our organization's request for LVAP funding had been received. We rescinded our request for the funds and asked that the victims be sent to our organization in lieu of funds. No response was received to this email, and no victims were referred for services.

  • January 15, 2019: Richmond Hill Police Department Chief, Mitch Shores, had his investigator, Keith Welch, have our Executive Director and medical-forensic examiner written out of the judicial circuit Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). 

  • February 10, 2019: An email was sent by the President of the Board of Directors to the Bryan County Administrator, Ben Taylor, and the Bryan County Finance Director, John Rauback, informing them she is on the agenda for the February 2019 Bryan County Commissioners meeting. She requested the issue be resolved prior to that time. No replies received to that email. 

  • February 12, 2019: President of the Board of Directors spoke at the February 2019 Bryan County Commissioner's meeting during the public comments session. Prior to that, Ben Taylor, the Bryan County Administrator, recommended that the Commissioners appoint an "LVAP Committee" to determine the disbursement of Bryan County's LVAP funds. 

  • February 13, 2019: Another formal request for the Bryan County LVAP funds was sent to the Bryan County Commissioners via email. No responses to our request was received.

  • February 21, 2019: President of the Board had lengthy phone conversations with CJCC and the state Attorney General's Office regarding the wide discrepancies in reporting funds collected in Bryan County under the LVAP. Discussed the thousands in funds that are simply "unaccounted for" in Bryan County over the past several years. CJCC stated they have long been aware of these discrepancies, and Bryan County is one of two counties in the state with wide discrepancies in reporting on the LVAP funds; however, their agency lacks any "enforcement" authority where these funds are concerns. President of the Board had lengthy phone conversations with an attorney in the state Attorney General's Office regarding the wide discrepancies in reporting funds collected in Bryan County under the LVAP. Discussed the thousands in funds that are simply "unaccounted for" in Bryan County over the past several years. Representative took all information and documentation and promised to get back with our organization.

  • February 22, 2019: Email sent to Bryan County Commissioner Brad Brookshire and Dr. Gene Wallace regarding the wide discrepancies in the reports provided to the state by Bryan County. No response to that email received; however, Dr. Wallace did send a "Read" receipt. IMPORTANT NOTES: 

    • Two (2)of the six (6) county commissioners cannot state they did not know about the discrepancies and funds that were simply "unaccounted" for due to those discrepancies. They were clearly informed here (on February 22, 2019 at 8:13pm). 

    • It was also made very clear to these Commissioners NO ASSUMPTIONS had been made about who is responsible for the discrepancies. 

  • March 6, 2019: Received notice from the state Attorney General's office that their office had spoken with the attorney for CJCC who stated she would reach out to CJCC to inquire about the discrepancies. Note: Our organization never heard back from the AG's office, nor the CJCC, regarding this matter. 

  • May 30, 2019: Individuals appointed to the newly established "LVAP Committee" and held first meeting are as follows (these individuals were hand-selected by the Bryan County Administrator, Ben Taylor, and approved the the Bryan County Commissioners:

    • Wendy Sims - Bryan County Family Connections Director

    • Judge Christy Balbo - Bryan County Juvenile Judge

    • Sheriff Clyde Smith - Bryan County Sheriff

    • John Rauback - Bryan County Finance Director

    • Bob Whitmarsh - City of Richmond Hill Finance Director

    • Bill Collins - City of Pembroke Director of Public Safety

    • Tracey Walden-Stafford - Community Member

  • June 17, 2019: Bryan County (specifically John Rauback, the Bryan County Finance Director) mailed requests for applications for LVAP funds via certified mail to the following entities, personally inviting them to apply for Bryan County's LVAP funds for calendar year 2020 (beginning in January 2020):

    • The Cottage/Serenity Hill, Inc. (Richmond Hill, Bryan County)

    • Tri-County Protective Agency (Midway, Liberty County)

    • Helen's Haven Children's Advocacy Center (Hinesville, Liberty County)

    • District Attorney's (DA's) Office (Hinesville, Liberty County)

  • June 18, 2019: FIRST ARTICLE written by Jessica Szilagyi, a state-wide investigative reporter with All On Georgia, regarding the "mismanagement" of Bryan County's LVAP funds. The title of the article: "Records: Bryan County Mismanaging Funds Dedicated for Crime Victims." A copy of this article can be viewed by clicking HERE

  • July 8, 2019: SECOND ARTICLE written by Jessica Szilagyi regarding the "mismanagement" of  LVAP funds. The title of the article: "Mismanaged Victims Funds Span Across Entire Atlantic Judicial Circuit." A copy of this article can be viewed by clicking  HERE 

  • July 16, 2019: THIRD ARTICLE written by Jessica Szilagyi regarding Bryan County's defense of their "mismanagement" of  LVAP funds. The title of the article: "Bryan Co Defense of Victim’s Fund Use is More Like a Limp Shield." A copy of this article can be viewed by clicking HERE

  • August 7, 2019: Applicants for Bryan County LVAP funds for calendar year 2020 made presentations in front of the "LVAP committee" to make funding determinations for calendar year 2020 (to begin in January 2020). Several things came to light during these presentations:

  • August 8, 2019: FOURTH ARTICLE written by Jessica Szilagyi regarding the "mismanagement" of Bryan County LVAP funds. The title of the article: "FACT Check: Atlantic Judicial Circuit DA Struggles to Justify Funding Meant for Victims." A copy of this article can be viewed by clicking HERE

  • August 10, 2019: FIFTH ARTICLE written by Jessica Szilagyi regarding the "mismanagement" of Bryan County funds. The title of the article: "Use of Bryan Co. Tax Dollars to Prop Up Private Nonprofit Violates State Constitution." A copy of this article can be viewed by clicking HERE

  • August 26, 2019: The Bryan County "LVAP Committee" voted to divide the county's LVAP funds for calendar year 2020 as follows: 

    • DA's Office: 55%

    • Helen’s Haven: 15%

    • Tri-County Protective Agency: 15%

    • The Cottage (Serenity Hill, Inc.): 15% 

    • It passed 5-2 with Walden-Smith and Sheriff Clyde Smith voting No.

The full video of this meeting can be viewed by clicking HERE

  • August 27, 2019: SIXTH ARTICLE written by Jessica Szilagyi regarding the Bryan County "LVAP committee's" funding distribution during calendar year 2020. The title of the article: "Majority of Bryan Co. Funds for Victims Again Promised to District Attorney’s Office." A copy of this article can be viewed by clicking HERE.  

  • September 10, 2019: The Bryan County Commissioners voted to accept the LVAP Committee's recommendations without question or alteration - and also WITHOUT first hearing the victims who were listed on the agenda to speak in favor of keeping these funds in county and traveled to Pembroke for the meeting. The full video of this meeting can be viewed by clicking HERE

  • September 11, 2019: SEVENTH ARTICLE written by Jessica Szilagyi regarding the Bryan County Commissioner's decision to accept the recommendations of the LVAP Committee. The Title of article: "Bryan Co. Commission Votes to Keep Most Victim Funding for DA’s Office." A copy of this article can be viewed by clicking HERE

  • March 2, 2020: Emailed John Rauback when our organization had not yet received an LVAP check as of that date. 

  • April 10, 2020: Our Board of Directors requested emergency assistance from the Bryan County Commissioners during the pandemic since our organization was the only organization continuing to provide around the clock services to victims of abuse during the pandemic, and the numbers had and were continuing to increase significantly. 

  • April 13, 2020: Our organization did not receive a reply from any of the Bryan County Commissioners; however, a reply was received on this date from Bryan County's attorney. In that letter, not only was our organization's request denied, the county attorney stated that he (without our permission) provided our letter to all other agencies receiving Bryan County LVAP funds. A reply was sent to the County attorney from the President of our Board of Directors that same day.

  • August 28, 2020: Received an email from John Rauback with the request for LVAP applications for calendar year 2021. 

  • September 16, 2020: LOI and Application for LVAP funding from Bryan County submitted via email.

  • October 16, 2020: Begin...

  • October 19, 2020 at 8:47am: Begin...

  • October 19, 2020 at 10am: Begin...

Richmond Hill, Georgia

Phone: (912) 445-2517

Email: admin@thecottagerh.org

© 2020 The Cottage at Serenity Hill, Inc. & Ingram-Jones & Associates, LLC

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