PICHER - As the buyout trust continues to move forward with purchasing additional properties at risk for subsidence, officials confirmed the entity is uncertain exactly what property it presently owns.
A state audit last year revealed that, just days after Oklahoma legislators declared the Ottawa Reclamation Authority defunct and turned all its property over to the Lead Impacted Communities Relocaition Trust, ORA board members illegally sold a chat pile to Lester Foster and his wife.
Prior to its transfer to Foster, that parcel of land generated up to $5,000 per month from chat sales, ORA financial records indicate.
Some LICRAT members had a meeting with the Fosters to explain the situation and recommended that the property, situated on what is commonly known as the Kenoyer or Kenoyer land, be returned, trust manager Sonya Harris confirmed in an e-mail Tuesday.
Harris said her attempts to contact the Fosters via telephone had been unsuccessful, therefore LICRAT members and practicing attorney Jim Thompson would be mailing the Fosters a letter.
The News-Record was unsuccessful in its attempts to reach the Fosters.
The ORA also deeded a tract of land to the Picher Development Authority, subsequently made into a development platted on record as the Paul Thomas Addition in Picher.
PDA members Mayor Sam Freeman and Joann Freeland sold property to themselves and Freeman's family, the state auditor's records show.
With the exception of the Foster land, the Freeman and Freeland parcels in question have since been deeded back to the PDA, according to the Ottawa County clerk's online transactions.
Lester Foster is a cousin to Freeman.
“A recommendation will be made to the trust at the next meeting to seek outside help in getting this situation resolved and sort out the PDA/ORA properties,” Harris wrote.
J.D. Strong, administrative assistant for LICRAT, said it was his understanding a more thorough audit of the trust's land holdings may be discussed during the upcoming June meeting.