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Appraiser will be scrutinized

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IN rkansas the Arkansas Teachers Retirement System has proved very
controversial in some management decisions, including paying a manager
very well, and now, allegations that the former director, Bill Shirron, twisted
arm’s of 6 firms doing business with the ATRS, including the largest Realtor in
NW Arkansas to pledge to “donate” $200,000 to a memorial to the directors
wife thru a local Methodist Church. Mr. Shirron resigned in March.

Auditors hired by the legislature blew the whistle on this arrangement. Among
the items they also uncovered was a land swap. The ATRS bought a parking
lot for $426,000 in 4/00. They traded that lot for another owned in part by
one of the people being shook down above. They had paid $120,000 for it in
8/99. To consummate the deal, the director changed the minutes of the
investment committee meeting before the title company would close the deal.

The legislative committee who directed the audit has referred two appraisals
to the Ark. Appraisal Licensing and Certification Board to “determine if they
comply with state law and standards for a professional appraisal practice.”
Elvin Shuffield of McCarley and Co. appraised two tracts, apparently for the
system that are involved in this controversy. One tract appraised for $10 per
SF and the other for $26.17 according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

For Mr. Shuffield’s sake and the reputation of all appraisers, I hope his
appraisals are USPAP compliant. Needless to say, I fear the worst when I see
the kinds of dealings that Mr. Shirron involved himself in. Locally the ATRS
has been buying some very high priced farms near a new regional airport here
in Waltonville. I complained someone was very stupid to pay those amounts
in an area without sewer, water, or likelihood of development within my
lifetime. Now it appears there may be appraisals floating around that justified
those purchases...they cannot be justified, especially when it is the states’
teachers money doing it.
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