Nevarez jailed again –Seniors Center enjoys smooth sailing

JaMisha Nevarez was taken into custody for the third time Friday since being fired, as Misha Davis, as CEO of the Bonners Ferry Seniors Center on May 31, this time on a felony charge that could lead to a five-year prison sentence. Meanwhile, her “temporary” successor, Linda Lederhos, says she has found no evidence of missing funds, widespread fraud or potential embezzlement as alleged early on during Nevarez’s tenure, and that an audit is scheduled to provide a definitive answer.

Nevarez was arrested Friday morning under Idaho’s felony bribery and corruption statutes for threats against judicial branch or elected city or county officials.

As she will not appear before a judge until Monday, details of the charges are not yet public. Nevarez remains in jail on $100,000 bond.

Earlier in the week, Lederhos invited local media to a sit down to report on what she’s found in her first month as Seniors Center director … CEO, she said, striking her as a bit pretentious, and what lies ahead. Lederhos also serves as bookkeeper, having stepped in to help Misha before she was fired.

While Lederhos said she wasn’t looking for any more on her plate, she being, perhaps, one of the community’s busiest women as is, she said she feels like she’s supposed the be right where she is. She insists she’s only holding down the fort, working on a temporary basis, but with no end date expressed.

She conceded that things could be better organized as far as record keeping, but she said she’s seen nothing to establish any crimes or bad intent on the part of the former administration, no evidence of missing or mishandled money.

“From what I see, the Bonners Ferry Seniors Center is just one more Bonners Ferry non-profit that operates on a very tight budget,” she said. “There never has been money just laying around.”

Gary Rhoads, owner of Rhoads Bookkeeping and Tax Service, 6476 Main Street, Bonners Ferry, has been engaged to conduct an audit, she said.

She said she’s met with residents at all three subsidized senior apartments the organization manages and said those meetings generated a total of 23 work orders. After having gone for about a month and a half with no maintenance man, she said the center was blessed to hire Jeremy Nelson, who has so far completed 18 of those projects even while giving a vacated unit a top-to-bottom overhaul and cleaning.

She said people from the federal regulatory agencies have been phenomenal to work with and they are close to having all compliance issues resolved.

There have been concerns that unqualified people have been given apartments and that on occasion the wait list … recently 50 people long … has been fudged on occasion.

“That’s an easy misperception,” Lederhos said, “because circumstances change when you’re on such long wait list … income changes, needs change. The fact that an applicant reaches the top of the list doesn’t mean they get an apartment, it means they get to qualify. If an applicant doesn’t qualify, we give them the option of starting over again at the bottom of the list. The fact is, we don’t have enough apartments to meet the need. We could use 40 more.”

While there are no overt signs of bad intent, Lederhos said it’s obvious that business experience and regulatory knowledge has been lacking, and she said she’s bringing a lifetime of experience to bear to see that’s turned around going forward.

She has extensive business experience as the “L” in the former EL Enterprises and current EL Internet NW with her husband and partner Eric, and she’s also launched and operated businesses of her own, including the Bamboo Room Arts and Crafts, the Bamboo Room Day Spa and the much-beloved community non-profit Care-n-Share, which has ensured no child in Boundary County need go without a present for Christmas for over 40 years.

What she’s seen since stepping in comes as no surprise.

“This community,” she said, “is amazing.”

So too are the staff.

“I remember a time when meals here were pretty bad,” she said. “Not any more — the food is excellent! Amy Leach has a passion for cooking and she loves the people she cooks for.”

Even if the professional stove is kaput and she makes do with a residential stove.

“There are two things the center really needs right now; a commercial stove for the kitchen and a heating and cooling unit for the facility,” she said.

Which brings us back to this amazing community.

She’s been amazed at the outpouring of support since stepping up to the plate, and she welcomes and appreciates every volunteer, every contribution, every donation. And community support will be essential, she said, in replacing such big ticket items, she estimates a cost of $20,000 to replace both, in a timely manner.

There is a lot more going on at the Seniors Center by the day as more people step forward and ask, “What can I do?”

Now open new hours, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., bingo is back at 1 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday of each month. Mexican Trtain, pinochle, pool tournaments and more. Art and business classes. Fitness classes at 10:45 a.m. Mondays and 9:45 a.m. Wednesdays. The list grows by the week.

One thing that stubbornly persists, Lederhos said, is the idea` that the Bonners Ferry Seniors Hospitality Center serves only old folks. Quite the contrary, it is there for everybody. If you class 60 as old, you might be right in thinking the center caters to old folk … that’s the cutoff age to gain the myriad benefits of a $5 membership.

But all are welcome — to games, to meals — a $5 recommended donation for seniors, $8 for young uns — just call at their new number, (208) 267-4421, by 10 a.m. to let Amy know you’re coming.

Call the same number or stop in if you’d like to volunteer or or make a donation. You are always welcome, Linda said.

One thought on “Nevarez jailed again –Seniors Center enjoys smooth sailing

  1. I’m glad that Misha is no longer in control of the apartments. She was a negative personality who put many residents under stress that was unnecessary.

    The new (though temporary management) has already made notable changes, first with having meetings with residents to let them know what was being done to bring back organized and fair staff. Allowing residents to ask questions and concerns. It will take time as apparently there are several years records to have to go through and several issues and categories to look into.

    Time will tell how the new staff is doing.

Comments are closed.