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West Rowan Middle School Band Booster Club to host vendor expo; thank supporters

SALISBURY — Last month, members of the West Rowan Band Boosters Club were scrambling to raise money for an upcoming band trip to Virginia after learning that the club’s former treasurer stole more than $14,000 from their account.

This month, the club — thanks in part to the community — has made its goal and wants to say thank you during the latest fundraiser this weekend.

In February, Chantel Reliford, 32, was charged with six counts of felony embezzlement of funds by a public trustee. She is scheduled for a court appearance next week.

The only people who had access to the money was band director Nathan Bowman and Reliford, according to Rowan County Sheriff’s Office investigators. School officials provided account records that highlighted a number of cash withdrawals that were made with a bank card that was used by Reliford.

Bowman also provided paperwork for times when he gave Reliford cash and checks to deposit. Authorities said Reliford kept the cash and deposited the checks.

Officials said the bank card was used to make retail and restaurant purchases and used at ATMs in Atlanta and Fayetteville. In addition, there were a total of 40 fraudulent transactions, 10 of them for cash that was not deposited into the account.

The boosters club is hosting its third annual Vendor Expo & Flea Market at West Rowan Middle School, 5925 Statesville Blvd., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

“Having the community come out to support our Vendor Expo & Flea Market is the one chance that we can say thank you in person to those who have donated to our cause,” said Band Boosters President Anissa Winn.

Winn said it’s hard to thank people in the community who’ve responded after news accounts of the thefts. But on Saturday, they will be giving hugs and thanking people in person.

The students will now go on a trip April 20 to Williamsburg, Virginia, which last month was up in the air.

“The money that each student and parent worked so hard to raise has been replenished. The money that each parent had already paid in for the trip has been replaced as well. This could not have happened without the support of our community,” Winn said.

The donations will cover all that was lost and give the club a base to continue to build on, she said.

“They have helped show these students to not give up in the face of adversity. As parents, we all want our children to be true problem solvers when they are out in the world dealing with life. This outpouring of support shows them that others believe in them and that the good outweighed the bad,” Winn said.

After learning about what happened, WorldStrides, the company that is sponsoring the trip, pledged to match the boosters’ contributions two to one. The company covered the $9,000 bill.

There are 40 vendors participating in the expo this Saturday. In addition, Big Tasty Food Truck will be sell funnel cakes, popcorn and other foods.

The band will have a yard sale and a raffle of donated prizes.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

 

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