State carpenters illegally fabricated and installed conference table


State carpenters crafted an ‘extravagant and grandiose’ conference table illegally installed at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources headquarters, while $ 54,000 in personalized walking sticks was distributed to officials and employees of the State. the State at the expense of the taxpayers.

Ohio Inspector General Randall J. Meyer cited the agency for illegal and improper acts during the administration of former Governor John Kasich in an investigative report released Thursday.

The Inspector General concluded that a 15-foot-wide by 24-foot-long U-shaped walnut conference table was illegally installed at MNR headquarters in Columbus because state law only allows MNR to make items for national parks – not for administrative buildings.

The 1.2-ton table was so large that large windows had to be removed from the MNR headquarters while it was being renovated and a crane used at a cost of $ 5,381 to install the table in 2014, according to the report.

A retired state carpentry supervisor said he was called back to work in late 2013 by deputy director and retired state forester Robert Boyles for a “small project” resulting in the table that took nearly a year to go. Its total cost has not been calculated.

The Carpentry Shop at Scioto Trail State Park State Park, near Chillicothe, also produced picture frames, other furniture for administrative buildings, coasters, puzzles, chairs and canes, according to the report.

The agency failed to meet purchase requirements to purchase two laser engravers costing around $ 38,000 to customize the items, the report noted.

A carpenter worker estimated he had made around 2,000 $ 27 trekking poles worth $ 54,000 over the years at taxpayer expense, which were turned over to lawmakers, the former governor. Kasich, government employees and others.

Meyer’s office began its investigation after receiving anonymous information in October 2018. The administration of current Governor Mike DeWine halted manufacturing of items in the woodworking shop last year, according to the report.

The report also criticized the agency for making $ 10,000 cabin shells for state parks that required a thorough overhaul because they were poorly made. A carpenter worker said it would have been cheaper to buy prefabricated kits to rebuild the cabins.

Meyer did not return his report for review by prosecutors to identify potential crimes.

The inspector general cited former MNR director James Zehringer and about 40 state employees for incorrectly agreeing to a free fishing trip to Lake Erie in 2018 in a report released in late April.

This story was provided by The Columbus Dispatch, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.

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