Library Board gets earful from patrons
Two board members resign
Lincoln County Library Advisory Board member Keith Lemons told the Executive Board, ¿¿¿I am handing in my resignation because of the treatment and humiliation you subjected Kay to. No one should have to go through that.¿¿¿ A dozen library patrons attended the meeting last Monday, and many spoke out on what they perceived as the Executive Board¿¿¿s bullying former Library Director Kay Peppard into accepting early retirement after 17 years of service. ((Photo by Michael Broihier) / November 9, 2010)
The first part of the meeting went smoothly, but questions regarding the annual audit of the library’s books foreshadowed what was to come. Certified Public Accountant Craig Butler, who has been auditing the library’s books for years, gave a clean bill of health for last fiscal year’s accounting of public funds and offered to answer any questions. Theresa Robbins, one of the dozen library patrons in attendance, grilled him closely asking if any of the problems uncovered in the audit were attributable to mismanagement by Peppard. Butler said that the few problems he found were attributable to the huge increase in complexity of the library’s expenditures over the last year because of the construction of the new building.
Robbins asked Butler if in past years he’d found problems in Peppard’s financial management and he said he hadn’t.
Scena Petrey, another library patron, spoke first when Executive Director Etta Meeks asked if there was any comment. She told the board that she had been discouraged by her husband from speaking out on behalf of Peppard who told her, “It’s just politics,” but the former teacher said she’d always told her students to speak their mind and was thus compelled to speak her own.
After testifying to Peppard’s professionalism and capabilities, Petrey asked the board what qualifications they were going to look for in a new director. “What qualifications will you look for: caring, competent, independent? Oh wait, you just dismissed a person like that,” she said.
Robbins spoke again, saying she respected Peppard so much that when she was summoned to the hospital where one of her children had been taken to the emergency room, she left her infant son in Peppard’s lap. “This lady has done no wrong to this library, she has committed no criminal act. You work at the behest of the Fiscal Court and you could all be gone. How would you like that,” she asked.
Robbins was followed by Kay Camenisch who told the board, “I’m grieved to see her (Peppard) gone. I’m grieved for the county.”
Next, Library Advisory Board member Keith Lemons dropped a bombshell on the group by tendering his resignation from the board. “I am handing in my resignation because of the treatment and humiliation you subjected Kay to. No one should have to go through that,” he said, “I can’t condone it any longer, therefore I am resigning.”
Another patron who said she was disgusted by the fact Peppard had been forced to retire asked to see Peppard’s performance evaluations that would provide a basis for the board’s alleged actions. Last week, The Interior Journal requested the same information via a Freedom of Information Act request to which Meek responded with a single word, “None.” County Attorney Daryl Day has been asked to determine if no such records exist or that Meek is refusing to produce them.
When public comment concluded, Meek read a letter she said she had been handed only minutes before, in which Board Trustee Gladys Burnside, who has served on the Library Board for over a quarter of a century, resigned without comment.
Peppard has stayed out of the brawl over her employment, and in a brief interview said only, “I’m taking early retirement and that’s all I want to say, I’m just happy to have served Lincoln County and the people. They are good people.”