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CMI stripped of oversight of weatherization program

WINONA — The State of Mississippi has removed Central Mississippi Inc. from oversight of a federal weatherization program.

The Mississippi Department of Human Services says the Winona-based agency allowed the same coordinator to conduct pre- and post-tests of homes under the program. MDHS, which administers the program statewide, also said it questioned the quality of work done on homes.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reported that the CMI board this week accepted the resignation of executive director Tomeka Harbin. Harbin, who had been on the job since June 2009, will leave Sept. 30.

CMI was awarded a three-year, $2.6-million federal stimulus grant in April 2009 to weatherize homes for the poor. Work, performed by contractors, included insulating attics and sealing windows and doors.

Money came through MDHS, which got $49 million for weatherization to be spread throughout the state.

Sollie Norwood, director of the DHS Division of Community Services, said in a letter to the CMI board that salaries and other expenses will not be approved until post-tests of all homes have been completed and documented.

Based in Winona, CMI is a “community action agency” that receives grants for a variety of programs to help the poor in Leflore, Carroll, Attala, Grenada, Holmes, Montgomery and Yalobusha counties.

In addition to the weatherization grant, CMI has been awarded more than $3 million in federal stimulus funds for Head Start, job training, utility shut-off prevention and other programs.

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