The longtime director of the Sugar Grove Library has been fired.
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"That is one of the best-kept secrets going," Village President Sean Michels said Friday. "Nobody knows the details."
Beverly Holmes Hughes, who worked for the library for 21 years, was fired July 14. The vote was 4-2, according to Trustee Daniel Herkes, who voted against the dismissal. He said Trustee Bill Durrenberger also voted against.
"I did not see any reason to dismiss her," Herkes said.
The board has six members since Sabrina Malano resigned in the middle of a June meeting.
Durrenberger declined to comment, as did Trustee Art Morrical. Telephone and email messages were left for board President Joan Roth and trustee Julie Wilson.
Hughes, who lives in North Aurora, confirmed the firing but declined to elaborate.
Trustee Bob Bergman refused to specify why Hughes was fired, because it was a personnel matter, but said he was "convinced by the preponderance of the evidence" and that it was a necessary move "in order to move on."
Hughes said she was told the board was "moving in new direction."
Asked what that meant, Bergman said, "We haven't defined 'new direction' for ourselves, so I can't define it for you."
The firing prompted the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce to send a letter to the editor to the Daily Herald. It said it was "saddened" to learn of the firing of Hughes, who helped organize the chamber in 1991 and is on its board of directors. In 2010, Hughes was named the Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year.
It wasn't the first time Hughes and the board were at odds. Last May, they had a major disagreement over her job duties and removal of some authority. This was at the same meeting where Hughes was honored for her 20th anniversary with the library.
In a March discussion of a proposed long-range plan and goals, Roth questioned why there wasn't at least one program a month for school-age children during the school year. She disagreed with Hughes' contention there was low interest and that it took a lot of staff time to prepare programs. "I can't see where it would take that much time and effort to put together a program for primary children or intermediate children for 45 minutes to an hourlong program or activity," Roth said, according to board meeting minutes.
There was also some criticism at a May 12 meeting over how Hughes prepared financial reports for March, April and the beginning of May. Hughes, who had just returned from a scheduled six-week medical leave and was only working part-time, told the board she didn't run separate monthly reports, but lumped them together, because "there wasn't time." According to the minutes, Morrical told her, "There is always time to do this budget correctly" and that if she needed help from someone else, she should get it. Durrenberger said the board should give Hughes a break because she had been sick and give her more time to fix it.
"This is a critical time for this report, Bill," Morrical replied, saying the board needed the figures to make sure it didn't surpass its budget.
The library is strapped for operating funds. Even though it opened a new building in 2009, it reduced its hours to save money. It is open only 44 hours a week; neighboring libraries are open 66 to 68 hours. Voters have repeatedly rejected requests to increase operating taxes.
Malano said she resigned because there was "just a little too much negativity" and personal attacks on the trustees from audience members at the June meeting during a vote to fill two vacancies on the board. Wilson and Bergman, who had not run for re-election, were appointed. "It was too heated for my taste," Malano said.
Herkes said some in the crowd felt that other people who had volunteered for the positions were not taken seriously. Morrical had tried to fill the vacancies at a May meeting, but the board did not do it because the matter was not on the agenda. Instead, it decided to advertise the vacancies and have Morrical vet the applicants.
The board hired Arlene Kaspik, the retired director of the McHenry Library, as acting director while it looks for a replacement.