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Personnel changes at Massena Public Library questioned`

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MASSENA - Concerns over personnel changes at the Massena Public Library surfaced at Wednesday’s town board meeting.

Library Director Lynn Fountain resigned last month, effective May 31. She said she is staying nearly two more weeks than originally planned at the request of the library board. Board President John Acton previously said Ms. Fountain planned to stay in the area and return to the legal profession.

At least one library board member has also resigned. Pamela Ouimet confirmed she stepped down last week for personal reasons.

Massena resident Jack Fuehring, who is the spouse of a library employee, questioned the town board Wednesday night on the selection process for Ms. Fountain’s replacement. Youth Services Librarian Elaine Dunne-Thayer was a finalist for the library position the last time it was vacant, he said.

But the library board hasn’t seemed interested either time in considering her, he said.

“It’s my understanding she is number one on the civil service exam. She’s well-respected, she’s experienced. And for whatever reason, she doesn’t seem to be on the a-list,” Mr. Fuehring said.

Mr. Fuehring said after Wednesday’s meeting he heard the library board was considering two candidates outside of Massena for the director’s job. And he wondered if the board could hire a director, since he heard both Ms. Ouimet and board member Barb DeLine had resigned, and Mr. Acton had recently encountered health issues.

The five member board needs three to hold meetings and make decisions.

“At the present time, the board is non-functional,” he said.

Ms. DeLine deferred comment Wednesday night to Mr. Acton, who could not be reached for comment.

Supervisor Joseph D. Gray told Mr. Fuehring the library board will initially hire a new director, with the ultimate decision from the town board.

“That process I don’t believe has started yet, quite honestly,” Mr. Gray said.

Mr. Gray said he too had heard of two library board resignations.

“I have not seen anything in black and white. I have not seen any formal letters of resignation, if they exist ... If we had them tonight, we would act on them tonight,” he said.

Mr. Gray said he understood Mr. Acton was in improving health and would be returning to the board soon, at which time the hiring process could resume. Even if two resigned, the board would still have a quorum and could act on hiring, he said.

“We also don’t want to rush any of this thing,” he said. “

Ms. Fountain appeared toward the end of Wednesday’s meeting and entered into an executive session, which board members said was for potential litigation and contract negotiations. The board took no action pertaining to library affairs after the meeting.

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