Uinta Senior Center board expands to nine members

The meeting of the Uinta Senior Center board of directors on Jan. 5 began with the announcement of Patricia Arnold, Daryl Fisher, Amelia Rutner and Dave St. Priest being appointed to the board. The four new members join president of the board Mike Davis, treasurer Joy Bell, Sen. Wendy Schuler, Teri Denhof and Casey Davis, culminating in a nine-member board.

M. Davis said the board decided to wait until the Feb. 9 meeting to elect a vice-president and a secretary.  He thanked employee Pam Ward for filling in as secretary until then.  He then turned the time over to treasurer Bell.

“At the end of the first quarter we have a backlog of reports on grants that are not completed,” Bell said. “The last month we received those grants was October. The feds will not release any money until those reports are completed.  We have a minus in revenues until then and we will be rectifying that.”

Bell said that once the board gets all of the reports submitted on the grants, the senior center will be okay and will not just survive, “but will thrive.” She said she has all of the contact information she needs and it is just an issue of catching up.  The board has set up an appointment with Decoria & Company to sign a three-year contract for auditing the books and setting up a bookkeeping system. 

“Decoria heard about our challenges and contacted us wanting to help,” Bell said. “We will establish a relationship with them and things will be different than they have been in a long time.”

Maryl Thompson asked Bell if Ottley was going to be required to pay back the wages she received for the two months, November and December, that the reports were not completed. 

Bell responded that the current board had “walked into a mess, a crisis” and were working hard to get reports up to date so the federal funds would be released. Bell added that the board’s focus right now is to get the reports completed and figure out how to move on. She said if they need to look at getting a couple of thousand dollars back from Ottley that would come later.

Responding to loud negative comments from the audience M. Davis said, “Let me have your attention please. When I was elected president I promised that meetings would be open and for the first time in a long time you have eight board members here and one with us via the phone.  It’s easy to throw darts and easy to sling mud but let’s put it behind us and move on. Ottley is no longer on the payroll as of Dec. 31 and no longer has ties to the center. Let’s not look back, there is much to do and work on and we are going to need your help. It’s just going to take some time.”

Questions were asked by members of the audience as to whether Sen. Schuler was staying on the board and if Denhof was coming back to Evanston.  Schuler said she would be willing to go off the board if someone else really wanted to serve and Davis said he wanted Sen. Schuler to stay on for at least another month so they would have her expertise in working through the challenges ahead. Davis added that Denhof is returning to Evanston on Jan. 18 permanently.

Sen. Schuler said she had integrated the three copies of bylaws and wanted to make copies of them but Interim Director Bobbi Brown had found a fourth set of bylaws. She wanted to peruse that before the board voted on the final edition.  Sen. Schuler said she had also found a copy of the original articles of incorporation and wanted to look at those as well.

Brown reported they had interviewed a woman for the activities director/receptionist position and had offered her the job. They are doing background checks now.  She said if it was all clear the new person would begin duties the following Monday.  Brown said that she had received only one interested applicant for kitchen helper.

There were many comments from audience members on the need to increase the wage for a kitchen helper and removing the requirement of being able to lift 50 pounds. Finally, board president Davis stopped the discussion.

“This is why we need an executive director,” M. Davis said. “We received your ideas on requirements for that position at the last meeting. We will be advertising for an executive director immediately in the Herald and the Kemmerer and Pinedale newspapers.”

Bell reminded everyone that there are two distinct positions at the center: an executive director who is responsible for the activities, meals and grant writing for the seniors and the other position of administrator of the home health program.  She added that the board had submitted the plan of correction to the state for the home health program on Dec. 30 and they would be submitting their notes and minutes from this current meeting, which will meet all the requirements for state approval.

“The senior center has suffered from the marriage with home health and that will change,” Bell said.

Sen. Schuler reported that she had met with the county commission on the parking problem and they want to help. They are looking into putting a security buzzer on the back door so seniors can be dropped off there. The board is also trying to find the MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the city to see what it may contain concerning the parking situation. Sen. Schuler said that the problem with using the area behind the center is that it is a city alleyway and must remain open for emergency vehicles and garbage collection.

M. Davis added that he was going to check to see if the shoveling and plowing had ever been put out to bid and the board will meet with the city in regards to the alley and parking.

A question was raised by several seniors in the audience concerning wether Casey Davis should be removed from the board due to his responsibility for the crisis caused by retaining Ottley after she moved away.

“Casey had a dysfunctional board,” M. Davis said. “He was overwhelmed. We will take your concerns under consideration.  We can move on as we now have a good working board.”

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