(Lander, Wyo.) – The Fremont County Commission this afternoon grilled the Fremont County Museum Board on a number of issues, including but not limited to the ongoing search for a central director for the system.
Additionally, a 45-minute-long executive session was held with the board to discuss personnel and potential litigation. Commission Chairman Doug Thompson said the executive session would include, in part, a discussion about personnel action requested by Dubois Mayor Twila Blakeman. She had previously publicly requested the rehiring of two recently resigned Dubois museum staff and the removal of several members of the museums board.
Interim Museum Board Chairman Jon Lane reviewed the search process for the central director position, noting the commission asked the board to consider it in May 2013. In late summer, the board voted 3-2 to move forward with the search. A second round of advertising resulted in roughly 20 applicants, three of whom have been interviewed. Lane said that after the last interview last week, there was discussion about reviewing other applications and ranking them. He said the board has not met since then to discuss how to move forward.
Board member Tom Duncan said he thought there were other candidates worth exploring and that the board’s administrative assistant had been following-up with applicants for more information. Lane said he was ready to take action on the three that had been interviewed. Commission Vice Chairman Keja Whiteman said she thought the current effort was convoluted and it would make more sense to determine if the any of three were worthy and then, if not, move forward with evaluating other candidates.
Thompson also raised concerns with individual board members acting on their own without board consent. One example was other board members saying they didn’t know Duncan had asked the secretary to ask candidates for more information. Another example, brought up by Commissioner Travis Becker, was a board member seeking a list of donors who had been asked to remain anonymous without the board suggesting she do so. Becker said he had concerns about that information being sought.
Board member Carol Chidsey said she felt it was responsible for the board to know where funds were coming from. She said if donors wanted to remain completely anonymous they should give through the museum associations. Lane agreed that the board should have access to that information, and he supports Chidsey in her effort to cultivate and maintain donor relations.
Thompson noted that without any local directors or one overall director, that has put extra pressure on the individual board members. But he emphasized that even if the board disagrees, forward motion needs to be board directed.
Commissioner Stephanie Kessler asked the board members to say how much time they put in each week as a volunteer for the museums system. Chidsey said she puts in about 10 hours a week. Erin Shirley said she does about five hours a week. Lane said he dedicates two to three full days a month. Duncan said he puts in 18-20 hours a week. Whiteman asked for clarification, and he said not all of it is direct support to the museums, but it includes evaluating other systems and doing research.
No formal action was taken after the lengthy executive session.