The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

March 21, 2013

Mount Hope nonprofits clash over old high school

Criminal investigation by State Police ongoing

MOUNT HOPE — Several years of bitter conflict between two community groups that both claim to want the best for Mount Hope are coming to a head in a West Virginia State Police investigation.

State Police Sgt. S.E. Wolfe confirms that a criminal investigation of William Sohonage and his dealings with the former Mount Hope High School is ongoing.

Wolfe says many have been interviewed for the case, but he has yet to sit down with Sohonage himself to hear his viewpoint. He would not comment further.

At the center of the clash are Mount Hope Heritage & Hope (MHHH) and The Center of Hope, both nonprofits headquartered in the town of 1,414 that now calls itself “The Gateway to the Summit” because of its proximity to the new Boy Scouts of America’s Summit Bechtel Reserve.

Along with a quasi-governmental organization called Mount Hope ON TRAC, the two groups are sparring over the ownership of the former Mount Hope High School, which was given to MHHH by the West Virginia Board of Education in June 2011.

MHHH’s attorney Ryan Donovan of Bailey & Glasser says his client has not filed a lawsuit.

“And we’re hopeful that we won’t ever have to,” he says. “But all that is kind of up in the air, pending the investigation.”

MHHH did provide The Register-Herald with an official statement, in which it accuses Sohonage of fraud.

The group says the members never voted to transfer the school to The Center of Hope, that

Sohonage had no authority to execute a deed doing so on their behalf, and that he acted without their knowledge.

One of The Center of Hope’s board members, local business owner Lynn Loetterle, says the group is in the process of retaining an attorney and would not comment on the record at this time.

The Center of Hope originally offered to open up its books to The Register-Herald but, after learning of the police investigation, decided against it.

The group maintains its finances are in good order and that its records will be independently audited to prove it.

Sohonage also said he would not speak on the record about the situation, at the request of his board.

Text Only
Local News
  • ee 1.jpg Energy Express makes impact on students’ lives

    Energy Express to him, Matt White says, is all about a “different experience.”

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • maurices Fostering Self-Esteem

    The local Maurices is involved in a project aimed at making the school transition a little easier this fall for foster children in the area.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Children’s Health and Safety Fair scheduled for August 1

    Montgomery General Hospital and Dr. Traci Acklin have announced that the 2014 Children’s Health and Safety Fair will be held on Friday, Aug. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Theater to hold auditions

    Open auditions are set for Tuesday and Thursday at the Historic Fayette Theater for the comedy/drama “Belongings”. Auditions will be held at the theater in Fayetteville at 7 p.m. each evening.

    July 21, 2014

  • asb carver 25 years and counting

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Taylor Made Free concert series

    The next free public concert in the Lively Family Amphitheater Summer Concert Series is a performance Saturday at 6 p.m. by popular band Taylor Made.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Energy Express open house set

    Energy Express, an award-winning summer reading program serving 35+ children in Fayette County, will host a free open house for members of the Beards Fork SALS community. The event takes place on Thursday, July 24, at 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

    July 17, 2014

  • rhody1.jpg Stages of life

    July 14, 2014 3 Photos

  • thurmond depot.jpg Explore town’s rail heritage

    Discover what life was like in one of the New River Gorge’s most renowned towns as you join National Park Service rangers and Operation Lifesaver on Saturday, July 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to explore the historic railroad town of Thurmond.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • apt bldg1.jpg Demolition and disposal

    July 10, 2014 3 Photos