Did Secret Conflicts of Interest Bankrupt Bartlett House?

Bartlett House is an icon in the Morgantown community, serving as the go-to homeless shelter for nearly 40 years and assisting tens of thousands of mountaineers in need.

Established in 1985, the Bartlett sisters envisioned a philanthropic purpose for their home on Grant Avenue. Ethel Bartlett and Pauline Bartlett, both native mountaineers, lived in Morgantown well into their 90s, passing away just a year apart. (Read more of WVMAD’s findings in The History of Morgantown’s Mysterious Bartlett Sisters: Bartlett House Namesake)

Today, the shelter has expanded to three locations, including emergency housing and short-term apartments.

However, as it approaches its 40-year anniversary next year, Bartlett House faces severe financial challenges and the looming threat of collapse. The Board of Directors is urgently seeking a $300,000 bailout from taxpayers.

In a story published by the Dominion Post on May 3, 2024, Bartlett House’s President, Nick DeMedici, raised some eyebrows: “While the board was aware of our precarious situation, we did not fully grasp its severity until recently.” 

Yet, DeMedici notes employees are without healthcare and are owed money into their retirement accounts. And without a massive $300,000 from the taxpayers, the entire organization will fail in mere weeks.

It raises questions: How could the leader of a major nonprofit fail to understand the dire financial state of an organization so broke, it cannot cover its employees’ health insurance premiums? And considering taxpayers have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bartlett House over the years, where has all that public funding gone?

The Story Begins with Downtown Morgantown’s former Ramada Inn

In 2021, trouble began at Bartlett House’s 1110 University Avenue location due to a leaky roof. This approximately 15,000 sqft. building had been occupied since the 1990s. While the roof was repairable, a new opportunity arose at the old Ramada Inn.

The Ramada Inn, situated just up the road from Dorsey’s Knob Park, was constructed in 1972 by Alan Mollohan’s father, Robert Mollohan—a former congressman. Alan Mollohan took his father's seat in Congress and served North Central West Virginia for 28 years until voters ousted him in the 2010 primary.

After being booted from Congress, Mollohan faced financial difficulties. An article by WAJR revealed that his hotel had not paid taxes for nearly a year in late 2015. By 2017, the Monongalia County Commission and Sheriff Perry Palmer filed a lawsuit seeking $121,000 in unpaid taxes, leading to the hotel’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy declaration.

According to a source familiar with the hotel’s operations, the hotel had significant structural issues. Repair attempts proved unsuccessful, and water intrusion was so severe that a series of dehumidifiers ran throughout the hotel. Guest reviews on various hotel booking websites echoed complaints about maintenance deficiencies and building problems.

Enter Glenmark Holding's Mark Nesselroad and $500,000 Profit

In July 2018, Mark Nesselroad, owner of local real estate company Glenmark Holding LLC, acquired the old Ramada Inn at auction for $1,500,000, according to Monongalia County Clerk records.

A mere 93 days later, on October 19, 2018, Nesselroad sold the hotel for $2,000,000 to an entity that merged into the 501(c)3 nonprofit known as Morgantown Community Resources (MCR), operating under the tradename Hazel’s House Of Hope.

WBOY reported that the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust put up the money, which is apparently why it is called Hazel’s. It remains unclear what Nesselroad did to the building in 93 days that would have increased the value by $500,000.

Mark Nesselroad now serves as the President of Morgantown Community Resources.

Nesselroad’s MCR then used $3.5 million in federal coronavirus relief taxpayer funds to renovate the building, according to a report by WDTV. Gov. Jim Justice commented about awarding the taxpayer monies, “We hope and pray this is going to do a lot of good stuff for a lot of people that are out there, great West Virginians that are hurting.”

The facility was hyped as a groundbreaking oasis—where all of Morgantown’s homeless, substance abuse, and food scarcity needs would finally be addressed. WDTV reported it would be a “one-stop shop for those in need of aid and services.”

Bartlett abandons its Headquarters and moves into Hazel’s House of Hope

After their main building suffered a leaky roof, Bartlett House’s board members made a decision in 2021 to move into Hazel’s House of Hope and began paying rent to MCR.

The move was controversial because a significant portion of Bartlett House’s clients are located downtown, within walking distance of their University Avenue building.

In contrast, Hazel’s House of Hope is less accessible, requiring homeless individuals to take a bus there. However, Mountain Line stops service at 8pm. City Councilwoman Jenny Selin attempted to reassure the public about Hazel House’s less desirable location by telling WVMetroNews, “Some people are concerned about the location of the cold weather shelter, but it is an excellent location at the Ramada Inn.”

Meanwhile, Bartlett House’s University Avenue building remained empty.

Despite this, they were still burdened with a reported $500,000 debt owed to Clear Mountain Bank.

You can probably see where this is going.

Not only is Bartlett House’s board members committing to a large rent payment they never had to pay in their 40 year history, but the building they own also has a large monthly payment due to the bank.

And that leads to a reasonable question: Why did Bartlett House's board let its building—which had its roof patched 3 years ago now—sit empty while still paying rent to MCR? 

Bartlett House President Nick DeMedici has intimate ties to MCR’s Mark Nesselroad

Nick DeMedici was the General Manager of Defense in Depth, a Sabraton shooting range owned by Mark Nesselroad, according to an archive of the now defunct company’s website. Mark Nesselroad’s Glenmark Holding sold Defense in Depth to the City of Morgantown for police training, under an eye-watering 10-year lease agreement of $2,900,000 in taxpayer money. Bartlett House President Nick DeMedici also served as Nesselroad’s Director of Training.

Additionally, DeMedici currently owns a “discount furniture store” in Sabraton called Furniture Depot. The landlord for DeMedici’s furniture store is none other than, Glenmark Holding’s Mark Nesselroad.

The relationships are confusing, so here is the break down. MCR (also known as Hazel’s House of Hope) is Bartlett House’s landlord. However, Bartlett House cannot afford MCR’s high rent. Nesselroad owned the building sold to the nonprofit organization MCR. Nesselroad is now MCR’s President. Nesselroad is also Nick DeMedici’s personal landlord. Further, Nick DeMedici is an ex-employee of Nesselroad. Nick DeMedici currently serves as Bartlett House’s President and led the decisions to continue renting from MCR. 

Questions about conflicts of interest

So a fair question is, did Nesselroad have any influence over DeMedici’s decisions as Bartlett House’s President? Why would Bartlett never move back into their empty headquarters to get out from under the high rent at MCR’s Hazel House—which they could not afford?

The Bartlett House Inc. bylaws prohibit conflicts of interest. Section 3.19 states, “No Director shall vote on a question in which he or she is interested other than as a Director...”

West Virginia state law regulates how nonprofits operate. The law requires board members to act in “good faith” and in a manner that is “in the best interests” of the nonprofit. Generally, nonprofit board members are not liable for their actions, or even mistakes, if they act in good faith.


A board member is held legally liable if they meet criteria such as, “A lack of objectivity due to the director’s familial, financial or business relationship with ... another person having a material interest in the challenged conduct.” WV §31E-8-831

If Bartlett House had left Hazel’s House of Hope and returned to their own building, MCR would have lost out on approximately half-a-million dollars in rent. And more on that later in this series, as MCR just filed a lawsuit in Monongalia County Circuit Court against Bartlett House demanding $264,072.

We sent an advanced draft of this story to Bartlett House’s President Nick DeMedici and Morgantown Community Resource’s President Mark Nesselroad for comment. We agreed to give them an entire week to respond, and to publish comments in their entirely so they had a fair opportunity to address the questions about conflicts of interest.

The following is their response: Neither Mark Nesselroad nor Nick DeMedici responded to our June 14th email.

What do you think, Morgantown? Do you think the Bartlett sisters, buried at peace in the Dorsey Avenue cemetery, are rolling in their graves at what is happening to their humble, philanthropic namesake?