The Boyle County Senior Citizens Center is in search of a new leader, and the interim director is among the applicants.
The center's board of directors had been advertising for an executive director during July, and the deadline for applications was Wednesday. The position has been held by Sheila Cain since March when Jackie Sims, who held the job for 36 years, stepped down without any reason given publicly.
Ryan Owens, chairman of the center's board, said board members have been happy overall with the job Cain has done, but the they wanted to see what kinds of candidates an official job search would yield. He said there were 15 applications.
Cain said earlier this week she had not made up her mind about whether to throw her hat in the ring but confirmed today she has applied.
Cain, who previously worked under Sims, said earlier this week she is happy with the direction the center has taken since she was hired. Cain touted increases in the three major programs the center operates, including Title III, which includes meals and activities at the center and adult daycare.
The Homecare Program, which delivers meals and provides in-home services to seniors, has about 64 people enrolled since starting again this summer, according to Cain. Homecare was lost to a private company last year when the contract was put up for bids by the Bluegrass Area Development District, the group that allocates money for the program, but the center got the contract back after reorganizing its bylaws and its board to become public for the purpose of funding.
Cain was offered the job following Sims' resignation, a move that has never been explained by the board of directors or Sims.
Word began to circulate during the first week in March about Sims stepping down or being asked to step down. Owens and other board members did not talk about the issue, apparently at the behest of their attorney.
While discussions about Sims’ employment status may have been taking place in executive session previously, minutes of meetings obtained through an open records request indicate those talks picked up steam in the week before she officially resigned.
Sims was specifically instructed by the board to closely follow agency rules and policies following a March 7 executive session. She was also told not to speak publicly until a "prepared statement" was approved by the board.
On March 13, minutes show Sims tendered her resignation.
During the same meeting, Owens was instructed to offer Cain the job for a period of 14-30 days at $20-25 per hour, but she was retained by the board throughout the budget processes for both the city of Danville and Boyle County Fiscal Court. The city budgeted $64,500, and the county allocated $71,000 in their 2012-2013 budgets.
Sims' letter of resignation — a two-sentence letter addressed to the board on her executive director letterhead — is dated March 12. However, it states the resignation would become effective June 1.
Owens said Sims continued to be paid through the beginning of June because she had unused vacation time she had accrued.
It is still not known what kind of terms — monetary or otherwise — the board reached with Sims.
Leslie Vose, an attorney with Landrum & Shouse LLP in Lexington who has represented the senior center in the matter of Sims' departure, said there is a confidential settlement agreement between Sims and the center. Sims has not commented on the situation in the past citing legal reasons.
Owens declined to say what kind of severance Sims received in addition to accumulated paid time off.