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Bridgerland Literacy board bars press and public from meeting

November 18th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

Story and photo by Storee Powell

LOGAN–The board of Bridgerland Literacy, a Logan-based nonprofit organization that closed its doors Nov. 2 due to financial trouble, met privately last night to discuss options for reopening or permanently closing, barring media and public members from attending.

Board chairman Greg Podgorski said in an interview Nov. 9, “I’ve been asked by some individuals if they can attend, and I said I can’t exclude you from attending because I don’t know of anything in the bylaws that says it’s not open to the public, but it has typically had board members there,” he said. “If you want to come, I can’t tell you not to come.”

However, members of the media including the Hard News Cafe and The Herald Journal were not allowed to attend the meeting. Podgorski told the Hard News Café, “I will have to ask you to leave. These meetings are historically closed.”

Podgorski said last night the meeting could be closed because Bridgerland Literacy does not receive any public funding.

However, according to the organization’s 2008 IRS 990, Bridgerland Literacy identified as “an organization that normally receives a substantial part of its support from a government unit or from the general public…” and “the organization qualifies as a publicly supported organization.”

Also, under the “Public Support” section of the 990, “The value of services or facilities furnished to the organization by a governmental unit without charge,” was $5,000 annually from 2004 to 2008.

Executive Director of Bridgerland Literacy, Ron Jenkins, said the $5,000 was for the space that Logan Library donated for Bridgerland Literacy’s use.

Podgorski said for about 20 years funding came from the Logan Library, a public entity supported in part by the Logan City taxpayer. He said in recent years it has been about $20,000 annually. Jenkins said this donation has been completely monetary and does not include the $5,000 for the donated space.

Cari Shakespear, Bridgerland’s literacy coordinator, said last night before the meeting, that she believed the organization is still functioning because they are still paying out money and having board meetings.

“We are just thinking it will be hard to have meetings and discuss what’s happening with other people here,” Shakespear said of keeping the meeting private.

Podgorski said the organization has been exploring the possibility of another entity taking over.

“Negotiations are in a delicate stage and I don’t want to take a sledge hammer to this and start saying that so-and-so is potentially interested in partnering with us and have a bunch of people start banging on the doors because that scares people away,” Podgorski said.

He said he met with people from the “entity” Nov. 8 and he was bringing this discussion to the board at last night’s meeting. He said funds from donors and foundation grants have “dried up.”

The library donations are a major part of Bridgerland Literacy’s funds, Podgorski said.

“The Logan City Council is looking to enforce a law that says that nonprofits should not receive funding from the city for more than three continuous years,” he said. “The decision to halt the funds has not been made yet, but it is certainly going that direction.”

Podgorski said he does not know if the board will remain the same if taken over by another entity.

“We were caught off-guard by the financial situation. We needed to protect the organization so we didn’t go into a financial hole that would hold us liable, essentially for over spending the budget,” Podgorski said.


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