The man who led a previous effort to buy out a fraction of Picher residents is returning to the service of the Lead Impacted Community Relocation Assistance Trust.

Larry Roberts, former chairman of the trust, was hired Thursday to serve as operations manager on an interim basis.

Roberts' appointment serves an immediate need for the trust, according to Dr. Mark Osborn, vice chairman of the trust.

Osborn said the trust has not yet decided how it will proceed with sitting a permanent replacement for the former manager.

Sonya Harris resigned earlier this month.

Roberts said today that he believes that his experience will be beneficial to the trust and will bring continuity to the proceedings.

“I have helped people in our community for more than 30 years as an elected official and I am still helping people,” Roberts said. “What better way to do this than to help these people through the second phase of the buyout.”

Roberts wrote the legislation that was used for the 2004 buyout of families with children age 6 and under. It has since been modified to fit the current buyout effort of Tar Creek residents within areas identified as having an elevated risk of subsidence.

“Since I wrote the original law, I understand how it is supposed to operate,” Roberts said. “It has been modified a bit, but I know its intent and purpose. That is exactly what we will be doing in the future - making sure that we are following the law.”

Roberts also indicated that he has a full understanding of the Open Meeting Law and will assist the trust in that area as well.

Roberts was approached last year to consider the operations manager position, but turned it down.

He said today that he has changed his mind because he wants to see everything run smoothly and efficiently.

“I believe my experience can help,” Roberts said.

In other business, trust officials:

€ Learned that all funding mechanisms for the initial $18.8 million in funding are in place and all agreements have been signed and approved, according to Angela Brunsman of the State Department of Environmental Quality.

€ Were advised by Bob Parmele of Cinnabar Services Company that all property inspections are complete and the review appraiser has completed review of 90 of those appraisals. Parmele indicated that, before the close of the meeting, the trust was to review 35 additional offers.

To date, according to Parmele, the trust has made 53 offers and 35 have been accepted. Twenty-five acquisitions have been completed.

€ Announced that the trust will honor an offer made to Tim Hart for property that does not exist in a qualified area of risk. The offer was made in error, according to trust officials, but, per the advice of its legal counsel, the trust will honor the offer.

Trust chairman Larry Rice said the offer was made and accepted before the error was realized.

€ Denied a request of Tim Hart to move his business property into Phase 1, Group 1, so that it can be grouped with the trust's acquisition of his home. The business is located adjacent to his home, but trust officials say subsidence maps to not indicate that the business structure is in a high-risk area.

€ Approved revised offers for properties owned by Wayne Leggett, Carl Taylor and Betty Betts.