Feudin’ and fightin’ in Genoa
The Genoa Town Board agreed Friday to hold a closed session with outgoing town office manager Ann Evans, but also made plans to advertise her job and that of her assistant if they don’t rescind their resignations.
The decision followed 90 minutes of acrimonious exchanges between residents and leaders. The special meeting was prompted by Evans’ announcement she’s leaving effective July 2, to be followed a day later by her assistant, Sheri Walters.
Evans, who is on medical leave, has worked for the town for five years. She has declined to comment on a specific reason for resigning, but Friday’s exchange suggested frustration with planning efforts for the Candy Dance, the town’s biggest fund-raiser, was a factor.
Evans handled much of the logistical planning for the annual event through her job, and the town depends on volunteers to make the candy and staff the actual event, which draws thousands of people.
When volunteer candy making committee leader Bev Smith quit in March, Evans was appointed to that job. The Candy Dance now is three months away, and in a June 16 memo to the town board, Evans said planning is not as advanced as it should be.
Several residents fretted about the impact of Evans’ departure on the Candy Dance.
Board member Bernie Carter said he’s confident volunteers will come forward.
That got Evans, who had been quietly watching the meeting from the back of the room, to her feet.
“Where were you when I was asking you the same thing?” she asked. “Now all of a sudden you’re going to find volunteers and you’re going to run the event, when that’s all I’ve been asking you to do for the last six months?”
Board member Michael Miluck wanted to accept the resignations, but got no support. Board member Lou Schaffer said he hopes Evans will reconsider her decision, saying she’s done a good job.
Evans said she’s offended by constant criticism and challenges to her day-to-day administrative practices, especially in public meetings.
“(You’re) reaming me like I’m on trial, and you want me to work for you?” she asked.
She was backed by some residents, who chastised the board members and said they should focus on luring Evans and Smith back to work for the town.
“The finger’s on the board for the resignations of these two valuable people,” said Ron Funk.
Following the meeting, Carter said he’s confident the Candy Dance will go on as planned. He said logistical issues like trash pickup and road permits are being handled and some of the planning is ahead of schedule.
Carter said he hopes to resolve the conflict with Evans, which he said only recently peaked.
“There’s a lot of baggage accumulated, and it’s my intent to alleviate that,” said Carter, who took office in January.
If Evans doesn’t return, “it’s not insurmountable,” said Carter. “It’s just a matter of getting the volunteers out. One way or another, it’s going to come off.”