$3 million in grant money withdrawn from government agency

Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency office in Cookeville, TN. (WSMV)

The TN Department of Transportation is pulling $3 million in grant money from the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency that would have gone to build a new transit hub.

This latest fallout for the embattled government agency comes after TDOT ordered the agency to pay back $130,000 after a scathing audit found mismanagement of grant money.

The agency and its former director have been the subject of an ongoing News4 I-Team investigation since last December.

Not long after TDOT awarded the $3 million grant for the new transportation hub, Liza Joffrion, director of the state’s transportation resources division, said they became concerned.

“Almost immediately after that questions started coming up about accounting practices,” Joffrion said.

Joffrion alerted UCHRA staff that the $3 million would be withdrawn in a phone call last week.

“I'm going, to be honest, it was something I was trying to brace myself for, but you hate to hear that when they say they're going to pull funds,” UCHRA’s Interim Director Mark Farley said.

The funds were to pay for a new transportation hub for UCHRA, which offers a variety of transit services for low-income people to help them get to buy food and go to medical appointments.

Farley said the services won’t be impacted.

However, Putnam County executive Randy Porter said the current facility is too small and difficult for vehicles to get in and out of.

“Don't know anything we can do but get UCHRA’s act together,” Porter said.

Farley said once they convince TDOT they have addressed the problems of the audit and pay back money, they hope to apply for the grant again next year.

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