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Kanawha County Fair ex-chief still soliciting donations

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County commissioners want to know why former Kanawha County Fair coordinator Ron Gregory is still soliciting donations for the fair -- and asking for a 30 percent commission on the money he raises.

For the past few years, Gregory has helped raise money and plan the fair, apparently through a foundation set up by county officials to run the fair. However, Kanawha County parks officials voted to sever all ties with Gregory in December, after Gregory allegedly took a county parks vehicle to Lincoln County without permission.

Parks officials recently started receiving checks from Gregory that were purported to be for the fair, said Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy.

Gregory has asked for a 30 percent commission on collecting the money, Hardy said, and the commissioner wants to know why.

"We severed all ties with him last December -- and it was long overdue," Hardy said Friday. "My position is that Ron Gregory is to have nothing to do with county business, and that includes the Parks and Recreation Commission."

Gregory said the flap was a misunderstanding. "I have a contract with them," he said, "They just can't find it." He said parks officials had asked him to continue raising money for the fair.

Kanawha County Parks Director Jeff Hutchinson and county parks commission chairwoman Anna Dailey have said Gregory is not a parks employee. Neither, say county officials, does he work for the county.

"The County Commission has not contracted with him in any way, shape or form in connection with the Kanawha County Fair," said County Manager Jennifer Sayre.

Hardy said he found out about the alleged solicitations after parks officials called the County Commission office to ask what to do about the checks Gregory had submitted. The question will be discussed at a regular commission meeting May 23.

Sayre said county officials are trying to decide where to hold the fair, which has moved between Camp Virgil Tate near Sissonville and Shawnee Park in Institute over the past few years.

Gregory is a longtime political figure in Kanawha and Lincoln counties. Last year, he was suspended from the board of directors of the Lincoln Public Service District and sued by a Lincoln County political candidate for allegedly failing to deliver campaign signs the candidate had paid for.

Gregory served as Kanawha County manager in the 1980s, but resigned in 1990. During his tenure, he was criticized for not discovering a $1 million mistake in the county budget.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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