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Originally published: 2013-04-01 16:12:11
Last modified: 2013-04-01 16:12:11

New River Service Authority board sets meeting

The New River Service Authority board will meet at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Watauga County Administration Building in Boone.

The board, which has not met in nearly 10 months, is expected to conduct its business in open session and will likely take action, Chairman Nathan Miller said. The board is expected to discuss a pending lawsuit and other matters.

The agency dissolved in June 2012 after managerial and financial crisis. A consultant hired by the NRSA board determined that overstated revenue and other serious problems led to its demise.

In April 2012, a group of former New River Behavioral HealthCare employees sued the NRSA board and its members for failing to pay for unused vacation time as company policy stated.

The lawsuit, which grew to include 79 plaintiffs, alleges a slew of offenses, including fraud, negligence, conspiracy and breach of contract.

There are also 18 small claims suits from former employees that are pending in Watauga County District Court after being appealed by the New River board last year.

The announcement of a meeting came as a "pleasant surprise" to former employees of New River, said Matthew Ross, who has served as a spokesman for the employees involved in the lawsuit.

"We the plaintiffs would like to express our hope for a win-win situation for the employees who continued to serve the most vulnerable citizens in our community and the taxpayers by not using our benefits," Ross said in an email. "We took it in good faith that we would be paid out our benefits following the demise of New River, only to learn that the counties refused to uphold their end of the deal."