Secretary of Firemen's Assoc. and Church Hill Rescue Squad investigated for misuse of funds

The Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a potential misuse of funds within the county Firemen’s Association and the Church Hill Rescue Squad.

Carla Dykes, who is the Treasurer and Secretary for both organizations is accused of potentially mishandling these funds.

“On Aug. 27, [Carters Valley Volunteer Fire Department Chief Terry] Armstrong noticed that two checks from the Hawkins County Mayor’s office hadn’t been deposited from back in March of last year, and both checks are now void due to time frame,” according to the report filed on Aug. 28 by HCSO Officer Samuel Wilhoit.

Armstrong then checked with the bank and was advised that Church Hill Rescue Squad’s checking account had been closed since December of 2019. Armstrong also told HCSO that the Rescue Squad’s lights and water service had been turned off due to lack of payment.

“After checking the books, he realized that $9,090 had been taken from the Firemen’s Association account twice to pay the bills for Church Hill Rescue for a total of $18,180,” the report reads.

Armstrong went on to tell the HCSO that he is currently unsure of the funds in the Firemen’s Association account and unsure of how much is owed to the bank for Church Hill Rescue. He also noted that Dykes had failed to submit grant letters for both associations back in June of this year, which would have awarded each association $24,500.

“All account information has Dykes’ home address of 538 Birch Street in Church Hill,” the report further reads. “Dykes also refuses to give any account information to Armstrong along with any bank cards.”

The Hawkins County Sheriff’s office is currently investigating the matter.

Rescue Squad still working tirelessly

“The Church Hill Rescue Squad is fully cooperating with all involved authorities and law enforcement agencies,” CHRS Captain Timothy Coup told the Review. “At this time, the treasurer of the agency has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. The members and its officers have and are still currently working tirelessly to enlighten and assist all authorities and law enforcement agencies involved in every was possible. The agency continues to provide rescue services to the citizens of Eastern Hawkins County.”

He went on to note that CHRS “can not answer and do not know the plans or what is being done with the Hawkins County Firemen’s Association.”

The Review reached out to Jim Klepper, the Vice President of the Firemen’s Association, who declined to comment, citing the fact that the HCSO investigation is open.

The Review also reached out to the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, who released the following statement: “The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury has broad authority to review government entities and non-profit organizations including those affiliated with Hawkins County. It is our policy not to comment further.”

This is a developing story, and more information will be released as it becomes available.