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Joyce Endee

Tri-County CAP board suspended

N.H. Attorney General's Office investigating organization

December 27, 2012
OSSIPEE — Concerns about the financial status of Tri-County Community Action Program (CAP) led the N.H. Attorney General's office to ask the court on Dec. 14 to suspend the agency's board and appoint a trustee to oversee the organization.

Tri-County Community Action Program (CAP) remains "actively engaged in providing services" a representative of the program said Friday.

According to a press release received last week from Peter Higbee, CAP's chief operating officer, "on Friday, December 14, 2012, the Director of Charitable Trusts of the New Hampshire Attorney General's office, through its Director of Charitable Trusts, Anthony I. Blenkinsop, Esq., filed an emergency petition in the 1st Circuit, Probate Division to suspend the authority of the board of directors of the Tri-County Community Action Program, Inc. and to appoint a special trustee to act in its place. The court granted that request and appointed Todd C. Fahey, a lawyer with Orr & Reno, P.A., in Concord to act as a Special Trustee. The Director's action last week followed notification to the Director on or about December 4, 2012 of some financial concerns relative to Tri-County CAP and its ability to continue to provide services and to satisfy its ongoing financial obligations. This situation continues to be monitored, by the Director, the Probate Court, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and various Federal agencies that provide Federal funding for Tri-County CAP's many programs. The Special Trustee is now working with regulators, outside advisors, management and key personnel at Tri-County CAP, Inc. to assess the organization's financial situation and to stabilize its operations. The immediate objective is to avoid or minimize any immediate interruptions to the delivery of services to the residents of Coos, Carroll and Grafton served by Tri-County CAP. However, the organization will be reviewing all of its programs in the coming weeks as it continues to file reports with appropriate authorities and considers all available options to fulfill its mission and operate in a fiscally sound manner."

A status conference is expected to be held Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 11 a.m. in Concord

In addition to the organization's board of directors being suspended, sources familiar with the inner workings of CAP confirmed that its CEO Joe Costello has stepped down and Dori Ducharme resigned as the agency's chief financial officer on Dec. 3.

CAP is one of the North Country's largest employers, employing about 300 people as the organization provides services to thousands of people in its 4,500 square mile service area.

The news of the organization's financial woes comes at a difficult time as those who rely on fuel assistance worry that program might be affected and representatives of the agency travel from town to town as they do every year asking boards of selectmen to include a subsidy in their town's annual budget proposal.

The organization is based in Berlin and has a satellite office in Tamworth. CAP is considered an umbrella organization with many social services being administered by them including fuel assistance, Head Start, RSVP, North Country Transit (which includes the Blue Loon bussing service), elder programs, guardianship services, restorative justice, domestic violence and sexual assault program, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation services. At the Tamworth location, CAP also owns and operates a dental clinic.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
Garnett HIll
Varney Smith
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