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21 seek seats on Basalt library board

BASALT – Positions on the Basalt Regional Library District’s board of trustees are suddenly as sought-after as books on the bestseller list.

Twenty-one people applied before a deadline earlier this month to fill four vacancies on the seven-member library board.

“That’s a record,” said Barbara Milnor, interim director of the library.

The library district often has to recruit – even beg – people to apply. This time, there’s a lot of interest because of a lot of turmoil surrounding the library during the past seven months. A group of patrons called Supporters of the Library launched efforts last summer to try to oust former library executive director Kristen Becker and overhaul the way the library board does business. That sparked a running battle with some of the board members.

Although Becker had the support of the board majority, she left Dec. 15. She considers herself fired because the board changed the terms of her proposed employment contract for 2012. The library district considers her departure a resignation.

Supporters of the Library also criticized the board for alleged lax oversight of library finances in general and Becker’s spending in particular. That fight isn’t finished. The citizens filed a request under the Colorado Open Records Act for records on Becker’s use of library district credit cards. The scrutiny also convinced the trustees to hire an auditor to look into Becker’s spending. The auditor is working on a report. It will be unveiled to the public at the trustees’ March meeting, according to board president Judy Royer.

A faction of the group also called on all library board members to resign and reapply if they wanted to keep their posts.

The quarreling led to the resignation of board member Steve Rittvo even though his term wasn’t up. The feuding also helped convince board member Christine Tinner to change her mind about seeking reappointment.

Trustee Taylor Liebmann already had planned to step down after five years on the board. Trustee Liz Gremillion’s term is up. She applied for reappointment.

The trouble over the library even forced changes in the way trustees are selected. In the past, the library board itself made recommendations that were rubber-stamped by the Pitkin and Eagle County commissioners and the Basalt Town Council. Now the library board is removed from the process. The county and town governments have formed a committee with two members representing each. The committee will interview the 21 applicants on Feb. 23 with the goal of making appointments before the trustees’ March meeting.

The applicants include three members of the Supporters of the Library: Linda Crossland, Carolyn Kane and Cil Klamper.

Other applicants are Jim Albert, Sandra Barthram, Sarah Evans, Bernie Grauer, Phoebe Gruel, John Hailey, Betsy Herzog, Kristen Jensen, Dianne Light, Fred Lodge, Heather Manolakas, Jessica Robison, Tracy Sgroi, Ann Stephenson, Robin Waters, Kent Whinnery and Gregory Zec.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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