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DPDA bounces back with new plans after embezzlement scandal

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PASCO, Wash. -- After a year of ups and downs, the Downtown Pasco Development Authority (DPDA) will be starting fresh in 2016 with bold new plans to further improve the community after an embezzlement case left them more than $100,000 in debt.

The highlights of Food Truck Friday and Pasco Specialty Kitchen were on the table for discussion at the DPDA board of directors meeting Saturday morning, as well as the fraud that rocked the nonprofit when former DPDA Director Michael Goins was charged with embezzlement of more than $90,000 in December 2015.

"We addressed it; we've had to deal with that and the ramifications are still ongoing of course," said DPDA President Jacob Gonzalez.

The ongoing case has left the group facing more than $70,000 in IRS taxes along with debt to at least 40 companies.

Legalities aside, strategy has become key, and this year board members can't wait to take on new projects they hope will attract more people and investors.

"As a community organization the one thing we have on our side is community trust, and if we don't have that it's difficult for us to move forward," said Gonzalez.

Move forward with ideas that include rebranding community events like the one planned for Cinco de Mayo to bring in more diverse crowds.

"We will start off everything with a 5K urban race with obstacles in the downtown," said board member Yesenia Celestino.

Plans for a Margaritaville Fiesta and soccer tournament are also in the works. Then there is the topic of a new executive director.

With Goins ousted, board members will be accepting applications and are eager to fill the vacancy.

"We're really excited; we also took a look at what other communities are doing across the country," said Gonzalez.

Communities of similar size and demographics.

"It's important to us as a nonprofit to understand the community that we're serving," he added.

And though vendor and sponsorship opportunities will increase with more events and the return of Food Truck Friday, the board will stay focused on what matters most.

"While monetary investment is important for us we also need civic investment and emotional investment," said Gonzalez. "And that means in some cases more than money does because without investment emotionally people aren't going to want to invest with funds."

Interested vendors and sponsors can find a media kit at www.downtownpasco.com. Applications for the executive director position will be accepted until March 24 by email at info@downtownpasco.com or P.O. Box at the Pasco post office.

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