Senior Center director placed on administrative leave

UCDD representative says state comptroller initiated investigation


The person who has been at the helm of leadership at Sparta-White County Senior Center for 27 years has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.

Brenda Roberts, who has served almost three decades as the director of the Senior Center, has been temporarily relieved of duties effective Oct. 17, 2023.

City of Sparta Mayor Jerry Lowery and White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson, members of Sparta-White County Senior Center Board of Directors, addressed the reported problems during the Oct. 17 meeting. Robinson stressed that when there are issues, the person at the center of the issues should be removed until the problems are resolved.

Upper Cumberland Development District, which provides funding and other services to the Sparta-White County Senior Center, terminated its contract effective Sept. 30 because of the investigation.

“I think it’s a serious thing when the UCDD [Upper Cumberland Development District] decides to pull the funding from the Senior Center,” Lowery said. “Being a part of that board [UCDD], I know how active they are in promoting senior citizens.”

Holly Williams, director of Upper Cumberland Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities, addressed the board and confirmed the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office is conducting an investigation into some issues at Sparta-White County Senior Center.

“It’s a large amount of information, and it’s going to take time,” Williams said. “It’s not something you can just look at today and make a decision on. It’s going to take a significant amount of time.

Williams continued, “So, this is not the first incident that has been brought to us over the last year. There’s been a multitude of complaints that have been coming to our office, and that is why we issued a three-month contract starting July 1st because we thought that maybe by the end of September they would be finished with the initial review, and they are not. And then there was additional information … of a more serious nature, more concerning to us. And so because of the timing of the need to determine whether or not we were going to renew the contract, we consulted with our state office, and the decision collectively was made to hold off on renewing that contract until there was an opportunity for everything to go through its process and the determination be made.”

Robinson made a motion to place Roberts on administrative leave, with pay, pending the outcome of the investigation. Lowery seconded the motion. A majority of the board members in attendance voted in favor of the motion. However, they emphasized their votes did not indicate they felt Roberts was guilty of any wrongdoings but that the decision was to protect Roberts as well as the board during the investigation.

The board then moved on to the discussion about who would serve as interim director and whether the Senior Center would remain open during the transitional period.

Robinson nominated Lowery as interim director. A majority of the board members voted in favor of Lowery taking the helm until the investigation is complete. Since the City of Sparta owns the Senior Center building, Lowery willingly accepted the temporary position.

In a statement issued to The Expositor after the meeting, Lowery said the following.

“I feel hurt and have compassion in my heart for the things that took place at the board meeting,” he said. “It is never good when our community suffers something like this.  We were informed of a state comptroller’s investigation and a separate investigation that was taking place at our Senior Center.  The actions taken at the board meeting in no way implies guilt at this time.  We are hoping that the issues will be addressed with swiftness and urgency so we can continue to serve our senior citizens in our community.  We have some building issues that must be addressed at this time.  The center will be closed for a few days, and we will then look at how we can open the doors for our community once the repairs have been made.  This is an ongoing issue at this time.”          


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  • azglenn2001

    Been an active member of the Sparta senior center in excess of ten years have worked with Brenda on numerous projects and I have always felt needed and appreciated and my hope is she is exonerated and the person(s) in this attempted "Coup" get nothing but what is coming to them

    Wednesday, October 18, 2023 Report this