Metro health official resigning after questions over grants - - The News for South Mississippi

Metro health official resigning after questions over grant programs

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Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge

There's been a personnel shakeup at the Metro Health Department after a Channel 4 I-Team investigation into how millions of taxpayers' dollars were spent.

Earlier this month, we reported that federal auditors questioned why grant money for a fatherhood program was earmarked for things like a new gym floor and lost kayaks.

Now, a high-ranking Metro official is resigning.

Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge oversees that grant along with a step-up grant funded by the state. And there was a lot of questioned spending in that grant program, too.

Now, the health department confirms Wyche-Etheridge is resigning Dec. 20.

She's the director of the Family, Youth and Infant Health Bureau. In that job, she oversaw grants that ended up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in questioned costs.

One of the grants involved a program that was supposed to get kids healthier through step-dancing. The state made the Metro Health Department pay back $50,000 after learning the money paid for gift cards and meals, an $11,000 step show and bought a $3,300 computer.

We also told you about a conflict of interest.

The Channel 4 I-Team found the health department employee running the program was also treasurer of the organization that was paid to teach step dancing.

That step grant wasn't the only one under Wyche-Etheridge with questioned costs.

The feds pulled the plug on a fatherhood education program, questioning why the health department thought it was OK to use federal tax dollars for lost kayaks and to put a $30,000 gym floor in the Martha O'Bryan Center as well as a $10,000 alarm system.

So few men finished the program, the cost averaged out to $24,000 per dad.

According to the health department, Wyche-Etheridge is leaving for another job in the public health field. She was making $175,000 a year, according to public records.

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