Genoa employee reflects on last day |

Genoa employee reflects on last day

by Christy Chalmers

Ann Evans feels like she put a favorite stepchild up for adoption Friday.

It was her last official day as the Genoa town office manager, and it was bittersweet.

“I kind of took this job on as a stepchild, and I’m giving it up for adoption,” she said during a break from cleaning the town hall. “It was just like a baby, except I was getting up at 2 a.m. to chain up the truck and plow the snow.”

Evans resigned five years after she began working for the town. Her assistant, Sheri Walters, is also leaving, effective today.

Their departures are happening three months before the annual Candy Dance, the town’s biggest event and primary fund-raiser, and that has led to accusations of sabotage by Evans, who handled much of the event organization through her job.

Though she previously declined to comment, Evans says the sabotage accusations are untrue, and her resignation was triggered by continual public criticism and personal attacks by some town board members.

“It was like a no-win situation,” she said. “Everything I did was wrong. Everything I said was wrong. They had no respect for all the time I put in.

“It was just time to say ‘I can’t do this. I can’t be treated this way.'”

n Work experience. Evans moved to Genoa in 1989 and worked on the Candy Dance before being hired in June 1994 as a secretary and bookkeeper for 19 hours a week.

In 1996, her hours were increased to 29 a week, and in 1997 she was made a full-time employee.

She says she started the job without a formal job description, addressing tasks as they surfaced. Though a formal description has since been adopted, she says she was still handling everything from taking minutes at the town board meetings to cleaning the town buildings and plowing snow.

The atmosphere changed in January when the town board expanded from three to five members. Evans says she was constantly questioned, and feels like she went from being considered an “equal” to inferior.

n Squabbling surfaces. At the same time, town squabbles were exposing themselves through the Candy Dance. Bev Smith, a volunteer who headed the candy making committee, quit in March citing criticism about the process. Evans was then appointed to take over.

She says she sought help from the town board members to recruit volunteers and assist with the planning, but was ignored. The final straw came at the town board’s June meeting.

“I felt like I was on trial,” she said. “I was demeaned and humiliated in a public meeting. It was horrid.”

Evans tendered her resignation but later agreed to a closed meeting with the board to discuss their differences. She then canceled it, citing concerns that the meeting notice would not have met legal requirements.

n Moving on. The town office will be staffed temporarily by Alice Rogers, who previously worked part-time for the town. Evans’ and Walters’ jobs will be advertised and Douglas County’s personnel department will find replacements.

Town board members have said little about the personnel situation. Evans says she had the support of chairwoman Kara Hayes and member Lou Schaffer. Vice-chairman Bernie Carter suggested the closed session, while member Michael Miluck wanted to accept the resignations and focus on hiring new people.

Carter and other Candy Dance organizers are emphasizing that the Candy Dance will proceed as planned, though they will need extra volunteers and especially hope to recruit those with previous experience.

Organizers have county approval for a plan to close the roads through Genoa during the event, and the town board is scheduled to discuss parking, ticket prices and several other Candy Dance issues during its meeting Tuesday.

Carter predicted the board will work closely with the new town employees to prevent repeat resignations.

“I think the past board didn’t give a lot of direction and a scenario like that can create a situation that can be very difficult and frustrating,” he said. “Our objective is to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Evans says her objective is take some time off and readjust to life as a private citizen.

“I hope they do OK,” she said. “I’m still going to raise my children and be an active member of this town.

“I’ll come back (as a volunteer). Just not this year. I need some time.”