B y Jaime Thomas
Granville village officials indicated in a letter last week to the Pember Board of Trustees they plan to work closely with the library and museum.
Mayor Brian LaRose also maintained that the village does not currently support the idea of the Pember becoming a school district library.
In the Feb. 10 letter to Mary King, president of the Board of Trustees, LaRose responded to a recent letter Pember officials sent to the village, explaining their response to a recent state audit.
“The last thing the village wants to do is micromanage the Pember. We want to offer whatever assistance we can to get the Pember back on track. The village is committed to do everything in our power to that end,” LaRose said on Monday, echoing what he wrote in the letter.
In his letter, he acknowledged the Pember board’s suggestion that the village should have had more oversight of the museum while explaining that he and other village officials were trying to not be overly involved.
“The village is aware of its responsibilities to the Pember and realizes that it should have been more proactive in its monitoring of the Pember Board’s compliance to their bylaws,” he said. “However, the village board in its entirety had complete confidence in the Pember Board’s ability to properly facilitate its own internal operations and governance structure.”
Following the audit, the village board plans to work more directly with the Pember, at least for the time being. LaRose encouraged the Pember board to fully examine financial oversight and various officials’ roles within the library and museum.
He suggested a collective meeting between the two boards to start “systematically start hitting those points” and offered several suggestions to Pember officials in his letter.
He said he is organizing a group of legal accounting, administrative and business professionals, who will volunteer their time and expertise to the Pember.
“It’s people I could call to ask for advice,” LaRose explained. “It’s just a tool box.”
King said she thinks the village’s letter and suggestions are “great.”
“I look forward to working with them,” she said, and she sees the letter as very fair and positive.
“They’re holding out an olive branch. They’re not pointing fingers; they’re saying ‘we see that you need help, and this is how we think you should do it.’ They’re not telling us we have to do it that way,” she said.
LaRose stressed that before moving forward officials need to know exactly what Pember operational costs are.
“There are a lot of gray areas there as far as the actual cost to run the Pember, a lot of gray areas as far as where funding comes from. We need to go through all that stuff from a financial standpoint. Then we can take that next step,” he said.
In his letter he commended library and museum trustees for their swift response and action to the village questioning management and operation of the institution.
“We’re very supportive of what the Pember is doing. They’re putting their best feet forward, and we want to do everything we can to support it,” he said.
At a Feb. 2 meeting, the Pember Board of Trustees took a number of ameliorative actions. Several board members, including President Marcia Klam, stepped down to satisfy a village residence requirement.
Additionally, the board voted to dissolve a contract with Keefe and Wesner, the architectural firm hired to do Capital Campaign addition work. There was dissent in the village and among local officials because of a perceived conflict of interest with Museum Director Pat Wesner being married to one of the firm’s principals.
Trustees also stopped using Communications Services for public relations, which was costing $3,000 a month.
Additionally, the board agreed to shelve efforts to make the Pember a school district library. Several local officials recently expressed opposition to that avenue at this time.
LaRose reiterated this in his letter.
“On the surface, this appears to be a viable course of action, providing that we can square concerns seen in the covenants contained within the Pember deed,” he wrote. “…until we have reviewed and exhausted all other means possible to support and secure the Pember’s sustainability, we feel that becoming a school district library should not be considered an option at this time.”
King agreed with this plan.
“I do think it may have merit, but first the deed and covenant has to be dealt with. I’m very into exploring the idea, but right now we need to get our ducks in a row,” she said.