Former mayor speaks out in letter

Published 9:09 am Thursday, May 14, 2015

(Editor’s note: This letter was initially submitted to the Ellendale Legion in April before it was turned in for publication in the Tribune.)

It is with a heavy heart I sit down to write this letter to the Ellendale Legion, the general public and most of all veterans about the charges that have been brought against me regarding the Veterans Memorial Fund. I, myself, am a veteran of over 20 years of service in the military and the last thing I desire is to dishonor any veteran by causing memorial funds to be a subject of dispute.

Working with other interested people, I created the memorial over five years ago to show honor and respect for those from and around the city of Ellendale who proudly served, are serving or died for our country. I dedicated many months to researching ideas for a veterans memorial for the Ellendale veterans. I was happy to have used my time, tools and equipment to assist in building and maintaining the memorial. I was also involved in selling bricks and arranging the financial management of the memorial.

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Unfortunately, I did not apply the same diligence to how I accounted for reimbursement of expenses and payment for my time spent on the memorial. Then when questioned about disbursement, I responded inappropriately rather than acknowledging that I had not done the bookkeeping, which should be expected when using public funds. That brought an investigation and an obligation on my part to publicly justify my conduct. I take full responsibility for the negative consequences which resulted.

Rather than disputing any of the amounts for which there are no supporting documents, I am reimbursing the memorial fund for the full amount called into question. I am hopeful that this action will encourage both past donors and future supporters. There should be no question that their support of the veterans memorial will be honored by integrity in fiscal management consistent with the sacrifices of veterans and their families.

I am very sorry that this has been an issue and apologize to all affected. Please join me and the Ellendale Legion in continuing to support and sustain the Ellendale Veterans Memorial.


Roger Swearingen

former mayor