The recently appointed board members of the Uinta Senior Center held their first regular meeting on Thursday, Dec. 8, at the senior center. The room was filled with senior citizens and members of the public.
The members present were Board Chair Casey Davis, Mike Davis, Sen. Wendy Schuler, Joy Bell and Teri Denhof (on speaker phone). After the board approved the agenda, there were some comments from the audience as to why the agenda, which had been placed on the dining room tables on Wednesday, was not being followed.
Which Davis responded, “That was a temporary agenda and we needed to change a few things.”
Complaints were heard from the crowd about not receiving a copy of the new agenda. Chair Davis responded that it was important to move on with business.
During the formal meeting, the board approved expanding the number of board members to a maximum of nine.
Mayor Kent Williams, asked, “Who appoints board members and do you have by-laws?”
Sen. Schuler said that she had copies of the 1995 by-laws which say the board interviews and elects new board members and a maximum of nine board members is allowed. Schuler added that the board is working on updating the by-laws and the 2018 policies and procedures.
Bell added that the board wanted to have a manageable board and an odd number is best. The board received more letters from people interested in being on the board and would be reviewing those before the next meeting.
Sen. Schuler then thanked chair Casey Davis for his years of service and nominated Mike Davis for the position of chair, which was unanimously approved by all board members. M. Davis then took charge of the meeting.
There was some controversy between the audience and the board about waiting until more board members had been added before choosing a new chair. Schuler said they thought it was important to follow the new agenda they had just approved which had appointing a new chair as the fourth item of business.
“As your new chair, I can make you one promise—this senior center is going to move forward professionally and as quickly as possible. If you have any problems, come to me, I will be here every day. My wife and I are now delivering meals and I have learned a lot already since that first introductory meeting.” Mike Davis said. “And from now on, everyone will be kept up to speed on what is happening and everyone who attends the meetings will get a copy of the agenda.” he added.
The board then approved the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) employee retention grant.
Teresa Odell asked what the amount of the PPP grant was and Bell responded it is illegal to reveal what everyone makes. Many members of the audience shouted they didn’t want to know what each person made but just what the total amount was. The screaming and shouting halted when Chair Mike Davis asked that everyone be professional and act like adults.
Maryl Thompson said, “Because Aimee has had control of the money, there has been so much speculation and worry over how the money is being spent here. People have a right to know what the center is receiving and where it goes. We aren’t asking for names. That is all I have to say.”
Bell then spent some time explaining the reason behind the PPP grants and why senior centers were included in receiving the grant to help retain employees during the pandemic. She added that the money needs to be spent before the end of the year so that is the reason they were voting on it at this meeting.
“The senior center is a private non-profit entity and is not required to release personal private information,” Bell said. “There is required criteria that non-profits have to follow.”
Bell said there appeared to be some confusion over the requirements for the administrator of the Home Health/Nursing program. She said there are actually two positions—one is the executive director of the senior center and the second position is for a Nursing Administrator for the home health program. The credentials required are different for each position, Bell explained.
The question of nepotism on the board was again brought up by members of audience. Chair Davis said he is a distant cousin to Casey Davis and Sen. Schuler, going back to a great-grandfather. Teri Denhof said she isn’t related to anyone.
Sen. Schuler, who is Casey Davis’s sister, said, “I’m happy to help but would rather not be on the board. We were up against the wall and needed a director and a board by Dec. 31 so I agreed to serve. We are trying to go over everything and merge rules and procedures with by-laws and update them. I will be happy to leave the board if a senior or someone wants to take my place. I care about seniors.”
Thompson asked why the board hadn’t yet released Aimee Ottley from her position and also asked about the audit that was supposed to be done by the end of the year.
The board members said that the response to the state audit report had been completed and approved and the center was given an extended time line to Dec. 31 to provide the plan for corrections.
The board members said they are still searching for an auditor for the state audit and they will be removing Ottley from her position soon.
Michelle Martin said, “The air and atmosphere has changed, its been a big transition and a big change. Thank you for that.”
“Thank you for caring and coming to help us,” Jen Staley said.
Chair Davis announced the board would be holding another meeting on Dec. 15 to organize and recruit a permanent senior center director and to meet with the center’s staff. A response to the written handout of questions provided by Teresa Odell will be given at that meeting. In response to a last comment on the need for more staff, Davis said that would certainly be on the board’s radar.