EXCLUSIVE: Concerns rise over Gate City Relief Fund

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Some people who live in and near Marks Village in Gate City have raised concerns over the relief fund that was set up to help families affected in the deadly gas explosion late last year.

A few local Birmingham residents tell ABC 33/40 reporter Marissa Mitchell they want to know where the money has gone.

The fund's director Pastor Darryl Lee of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church says more than $62,000 have been raised.

Alagasco spokesperson Sherri Goodman confirms the company donated $50,000 toward the relief fund set up at Wells Fargo Bank. Goodman says company leaders met with Lee, Housing Authority officials and others before distributing the donation. She says{}the company gave the money in good faith that fund holders, who have done work in community, carry out assigned tasks. Goodman adds that{}the Gate City relief effort was a "unique circumstance," and typically, the company's requirements for contributions are that a charity be a 501 (c)(3) IRS tax-exempt organization, located within Energen's operating areas and/or an accredited educational institution.{}

Lee contends the majority of funds have been used to help more than 25 families that were directly impacted by the explosion. The donations include help for funeral costs, housing, furniture and other items, he says. Lee adds the remaining money will be used to hold events in Marks Village. The fund has already sponsored Christmas and Valentine's Day parties.

Lee says there are misconceptions concerning the fund's use. Lee also tells Mitchell some people have asked for the money to help pay light and gas bills as well as their rent. He stresses it was not intended for that purpose. He agreed to show Mitchell documentation of expenses next week.

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