The Devil in Angels

A firestorm in the Attic
A firestorm in the Attic

In a “my way or the highway” approach that represents so much of the high-handed and failed management style of Angels in the Attic boss Kathy Blackwell, her latest tactics appear to be a last-ditch effort to destroy the well-known thrift shop on Locust Street in Floyd.

Blackwell, who forced several longtime and supportive volunteers from the operations in recent years — including Skip Pendrey and wife Babara and Angels founding members Annie Ruth and Melvin Wood, and then resigned from the organization but later claimed she only resigned from the Angels board and continues to ride herd even as the actual owners of the operations find for a way to gracefully throw her butt out of the place.

“It’s bad, real bad,” says one long-time volunteer.

The Angels’ building is owned by Floyd County Cares Inc., a not-for-profit organization that represents a number of charitable groups.  They own the building and want Angels to remain a downtown fixture in Floyd.

Blackwell, however, had bigger and grander plans.  She tried, and failed, to purchase the former Harris & Baker Furniture Store building  outside of town and has raised prices to a point where some patrons now question if the operation is still thrift shop.  Some suggest she is building a profit-centered empire.

When some volunteers who played an active role in the community questioned her, she forced them out, saying “it’s my way or the highway.”

“Let’s say her treatment of some of the longtime volunteers were not what I would call a ministry,” said one volunteer.

Blackwell created a new, personal operation called “Advocates for Angels” and posts critical, and some say misleading, information on what is happening in the brouhaha.

“She tells a one-sided story that is both misleading and inaccurate,” said a former volunteer.  “I’m not sure what the current ministry of angels is at this time but truth is not part of the equation.”

Floyd County Cares is operated by Sheriff Shannon Zeman and others in the county and took on the Angels building in 2000 because although Angels claims to be a not-for-profit operation, it is not currently recognized as one by the Internal Revenue Service and may never achieve that status.

Blackwell directs disparaging remarks to Zeman and others and makes claims that some say are blatantly untrue.

Blackwell is also circulating a petition to restore her name to the board and has put the petition on the counter at Angels.  She claims Floyd County Cares board President Dale Proffitt made “conflicting statements” regarding the role of Sheriff Zeman along with other issues.

Proffitt says some contributors don’t want money to go to Angels.  Several aware of the matter say Blackwell is the reason some don’t want to contribute.  Blackwell disagree with a violent tone.

Floyd County took on the role of helping Angels in the Attic because of start-up problems, especially in bookkeeping.

One board member, who asked to remain anonymous, said Angels is at a divide.

“It can return to its role as a community and charitible service to the community or it can be a fiefdom for Kathy Blackwell,” the board member says. “It cannot be both.”

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