President of embattled NC Rural Center retires
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RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- The longtime president of the embattled North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center has announced he will retire, effective immediately.

Billy Ray Hall announced his departure Thursday, after the release of a state audit Wednesday that showed the taxpayer-funded nonprofit agency failed to provide proper oversight of millions in grants while paying Hall too much money. The audit prompted Gov. Pat McCrory to call for the replacement of Hall and Valeria L. Lee, who chairs the center's board.

State Auditor Beth Wood's report said oversight requirements on millions in grants issued by the center were not diligently enforced and that job creation claims could not be verified. The audit also questioned Hall's $221,000 annual salary and another $241,000 in a special account to be paid as severance pay.

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