SG Library Board votes in favor of mediation with former director

By on October 21, 2011

Measure opens the door to possible return of Hughes
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Library Board at its meeting on Oct. 13 voted 4-3 in favor of mediation between board trustees and former library director Beverly Holmes Hughes.

Board Secretary Bill Durrenberger, Treasurer Daniel Herkes, and trustees Anthony Oliver and Julie Wilson voted yes to mediation with Hughes, while President Joan Roth, Vice President Art Morrical and Trustee Bob Bergman voted no.

The decision to mediate came less than three months after Roth, Morrical, Bergman and Wilson voted to approve Hughes’ firing on July 14. Durrenberger and Herkes both voted against firing Hughes. Oliver was not a trustee at the time.

Several members of the public in attendance at the Sugar Grove Community House, where the Library Board meeting was held because of a scheduling conflict, asked the four board members during public comment to put aside their differences and mediate with Hughes, and also spoke at length about the library’s current financial situation. Resident Mari Johnson said the board could get things back on track—and mend its bond to the community—by making compromises and committing to mediation.

“Working to regain the public trust will not be an easy task, but is something that should be on the minds of each board member. You will not be able to move the library forward without the assistance of the public,” Johnson said.

Past Library Board president Douglas Hartman also spoke, chastising the board for bringing the library to “the brink of bankruptcy.”

“The community is owed an exact and specific explanation of the new direction you’re taking this library,” Hartman said. “Is it closing for more hours, more days, weeks (and) months? Is it taking it out on the overworked and underpaid staff? Be responsible, mature trustees and mediate this fiasco. Put it behind us. It is way past time for this board to put the taxpayers first. No more undefined new directions. No more throwing away money we don’t have and will not get. No more guesswork; no more maybes. Start tonight and put things right.”

Prior to the vote for mediation, the board went into executive session for 75 minutes. Durrenberger also announced that interim Library Director Marilyn Boria had voluntarily reduced her hourly pay from $72 to $50 in order to put in more hours for the library and help protect library staff from cutbacks.

“She didn’t want anyone to say anything … but you can’t let that go without public recognition,” Durrenberger said.

Once the meeting had reconvened, Durrenberger made it clear that the vote for mediation simply meant the board would talk to Holmes about whether or not she’d come back under the terms agreed to by both sides.

“I think there are people that would mediate for us at no charge, and I don’t think the delay would be that great. I think (mediation) is what we should’ve done all along, and I don’t think it’s too late to do it now,” he said. “It is what the public wants at this point in time, so that’s why I feel very strongly that (this) is what we should do.”

Oliver and Herkes both echoed Durrenberger’s sentiment. Wilson said she could see both sides of the issue between members of the board and Hughes, and was concerned with the library’s ongoing costs.