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Lisa Bero resigns from Massena library board

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MASSENA - Lisa C. Bero, the last remaining member of the Massena Public Library Board of Trustees, resigned at Wednesday night’s town council meeting.

Citing a need for an entirely fresh start at MPL, Ms. Bero said she resigned after several weeks of consideration.

“I believe new beginnings and a fresh embarkation can be beneficial to the success and productivity of the upcoming formation of the Massena Public Library Board of Trustees,” she told council members. “Let a new board bring unbiased ideas and decisions to our library.”

Ms. Bero’s resignation followed the departures of president John Acton, Vice President Richard Geiser, and members Barb DeLine, Pamela Ouimet and Michael Gleason. Director Lynn Fountain also left after a year of service next month.

With no director and no functioning board, the town council decided to close the library on June 8 and reorganize. Last week, the council reopened the library and appointed retired director Paul L. Schaffer on an interim basis. The town is paying Mr. Schaffer $20 per hour for a maximum of three hours per day.

Mr. Schaffer will work at MPL until the town can appoint a new board, which in turn would resume the search for a new permanent director.

The council adjourned into an executive session at the end of Wednesday’s meeting to review potential board members and invited Mr. Schaffer to stay for it. The council made no appointments following the session.

In her resignation, Ms. Bero said she plans to pursue a master’s degree in psychology in the fall. She alluded to difficulties she had with other board members. Last month, she publicly disclosed at a library meeting misconduct charges Mr. Geiser had alleged against her. “I cannot say I have completely enjoyed my six months as a member of the library board for many reasons. Having to cope with the ‘mishandlings’ of issue upon issue by the four previous board members was to say the least, extremely troubling and upsetting,” she said.

“The backlash and outbursts I have experienced as a result of these discoveries was very difficult emotionally not only for me, but for my family.”

After the meeting, Ms. Bero said her resignation allows the council to appoint new members without worrying how they would fit in with her. She hoped a new library board would learn from the mistakes of the previous one.

“I wish the board the best. I know they will steer the library to the future, where it should have been heading well over a year ago,” she said.

“Speaking up when injustice is present is a good thing. It is a vital thing,” she said. “As I have always said, ‘Right makes right’ and to this day I stand behind that.”

Supervisor Joseph D. Gray, who had publicly called for her resignation, thanked Ms. Bero for her service.

“It wasn’t always the smoothest,” he said. “I think brighter days are ahead for the library.”

Mr. Schaffer said he was happy to return and help out the library. He has spent the last week meeting with staff and reviewing budgetary matters.

“I enjoy working here. I had no hesitations to come back,” he said.

“We hope the public will be confident that everything is being run well.”

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