COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. — Cottage Grove’s City Manager announced Monday that a former employee had embezzled money from the city. The city’s news surprised many, but also left a good amount of questions circling among the residents.
City Manager Richard Meyers says the alleged thief was fired and the city’s money will be refunded by insurance. Meyers’ biggest concern is hurting the people’s trust, a feeling that is lingering amongst Cottage Grove citizens as they learn more about the investigation.
“We do not have a lot of information we can share at this time, but we feel it was of utmost importance to let the public know this has occurred,” said Meyers.
As the investigation continues, the public still waits to hear who, how much or how long it went on. While the city wonders how long it will take to rebuild trust with its citizens.
“Staff is working diligently to regain the trust of the members of this community and we hope the community will support us as we work through this difficult situation,” said Meyers.
Executive Director of the Cottage Grove Chamber of Commerce Travis Palmer says earning back that trust could take some time.
“Restoring trust takes time. I think they have done a great job in acting swiftly and being very open about what’s happening, but it takes time,” said Palmer.
The Chamber of Commerce experienced embezzlement a while back.
“We’ve long since passed that, but there are a lot of emotions that are still tied to that issue to this day,” said Palmer.
Similar to emotions citizens are now feeling toward the city.
“I was really quite shocked, it’s not something you expect from your local government,” said one resident.
“I can’t believe we have people working in a public place that would do something like this. Aren’t they screened well enough or what’s the deal?” said another resident.
“One will be interested to know who he is, he or she, and just what their background is, and once the proceedings take place, the reasons why it happened?” said another resident.
Meyers says he isn’t sure how long the investigation could take; but as soon as they’re done, they will file charges and release the former staff member who they believe is responsible.