UCDD Scandal Leads Board To Call Emergency Meeting
Mike Foster, UCDD Chairman
By Phil Williams Chief Investigative Reporter
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Less than a week after the first stories aired, there's major fallout from a NewsChannel 5 investigation of a Cookeville-based agency.
The board of the Upper Cumberland, Development District has called an emergency meeting for this coming Friday to figure out what to do next. That follows a series of disclosures, including that million-dollar house -- that became the home of the agency's executive director.
UCDD was set up by the legislature to create jobs and help the poor. Its board is made up of local elected officials from 14 Middle Tennessee counties.
All this week, they saw our reports and they heard from the people.
"Most of the information that we learned from you a week ago Friday was absolute news to us," said Dekalb County Executive Mike Foster, who chairs the UCDD board.
"We have since learned some other things, and we have seen some things for ourselves firsthand. And we just felt like that it was time that we had a meeting and discuss some of those things."
It was just last Monday that our investigation first revealed that million-dollar Living the Dream development that was supposed to become a retirement home for needy seniors.
But UCDD executive director Wendy Askins also moved in, spending tens of thousands of dollars on all sorts of expensive accessories.
We also discovered how she spent thousands of dollars of agency money on gifts for board members. She even secretly used some of that money to cater a political fundraiser.
Foster said the board needs to get someone in charge of the finances who reports to them, not to the executive director.
As for Ms. Askins' fate, he said that will be for the whole board to decide.
That board meeting will be at 10 a.m. Friday at UCDD offices, 1225 S. Willow St., Cookeville.
MONDAY AT 10: NewsChannel 5 Investigates reveals exclusive new details about how the executive director's family profited from the agency.
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