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Gibson charged in Kentuck theft

Gibson charged in Kentuck theft

http://www.northportgazette.com/articles/2010/03/24/news/doc4baa758adbd21608885837.txt

NORTHPORT – It was business as usual on Saturday at the Kentuck Museum in Northport after last week’s news that the former director of the Kentuck Association was charged by a grand jury with first-degree theft from the organization.

Sara Anne Gibson, 53, was arrested and released from the Tuscaloosa County Jail on $100,000 bail after a grand jury indicted her on a felony theft charge.

The alleged theft occurred between 2003 and 2009, said Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Tommy Smith.

Jan Pruitt, new executive director, said on Saturday the news of Gibson’s arrest was not a total surprise.

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“We’ve not had any fall out from the announcement,” Pruitt said as she prepared for Saturday events at the Museum and the Annex. “This is something that happened months ago, so it was not a big surprise.”

Kentuck Board President Amy Echols released a statement from the board’s executive committee following the grand jury’s indictment.

“The Kentuck Board of Directors, subsequent to the resignation of Sara Anne Gibson, discovered evidence that indicates there were problems with internal controls on financial matters,” it read. “The Board has taken action to put into place proper controls and accounting procedures, and has notified the insurance company and local law enforcement. While the past year has been extremely difficult, the healing and growth experienced has been an inspiration to all involved.”

On Saturday, Kentuck employees held one of its new Ala cARTe series, which blends regional cuisine with art activities.

They have also been busy renovating the Kentuck Annex, formerly known as the Rainbow Building, for summer workshops and additional art display space.

Just this month, the Kentuck Festival of the Arts was selected No. 6 in the nation among fairs and festivals by American Style Magazine in its spring edition.

Gibson, who served as executive director of the Kentuck Association for five years, resigned in February 2009.

Gibson took the job in April 2003 after serving as interim director for five months, and before that, as festival coordinator under the previous executive director, Miah Michaelsen, for three years. Including volunteer time, she’s worked with Kentuck in one form or another for 30 years.

The Kentuck board noted restructuring needs in the organization following Gibson’s resignation. When Gibson was festival director, she worked all year on that project while Michaelsen ran the day-to-day operations of Kentuck. Those duties included grants and fundraising; the resident artists’ program, gift shop, gallery and museum at the Kentuck Art Center in Northport; school outreach and other events during the year such as Dickens Downtown and monthly Art Nights.

Carrie Fitts and Emily Leigh were named interim co-directors of the organization last summer and helped oversee reorganization in the wake of tax liens and budget shortfalls.

A $50,000 tax lien from the IRS was paid off from reserves, and other unpaid bills needed to be cleared.

In January, Pruitt was named the new director of the Kentuck Museum Association.

The search committee consisted of board members Amy Echols, Becky Booker and Lyda Black, along with Northport businessman Sam Faucett and Arts Council of Tuscaloosa Executive Director Pam Penick.

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