N. Versailles commissioner wants answers about library
The president of North Versailles Township's board of commissioners says he wants answers from public library trustees about their decision to fire the library director and first assistant.
George Thompson was out of town on Wednesday when Michael Kowalcheck and Karen Schmidt-Ramsey were notified that their employment had been terminated. Thompson said he plans to meet with trustees on Friday when he returns.
“Somebody's got to explain why they fired both these people,” Thompson said Thursday when reached by phone. “Something's been brewing but I don't know what.”
Thompson said he wants to talk specifically to Mary Ann Fetsick and Sharon Dunbar. Kowalcheck said it was they who entered his office accompanied by three township police officers and told him he was fired. Schmidt-Ramsey, who had her hours cut and was demoted from children's librarian to clerk by trustees last week, was notified by phone on Wednesday.
The terminations occurred on the same day an article about Schmidt-Ramsey's demotion and its impact on library programs was published in The Daily News. Kowalcheck said he had to cancel about 12 programs because Schmidt-Ramsey would no longer be able to administer them as a clerk.
The library was open Thursday but, according to a release from the board of trustees, it will not be open Friday or Wednesday. The library will operate on a temporary schedule of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday; and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
In the release, the board said “the library is going through a transition period to develop better ways to serve the community” and that the “board is committed to providing a high level of library service and programs to patrons.” The release invited prospective volunteers to contact Fetsick at 412-824-6616, the number for the township tax office where she is tax collector.
Reached by phone Thursday, Fetsick said library programs would resume on Monday.
“That wasn't the board's decision to cancel those programs,” she said.
Fetsick would not discuss staffing because it is a personnel issue.
The library's only employee now is a part-time clerk, according to Kowalcheck.
Kowalcheck worked for the library 19 years and had been director since 2001. Schmidt-Ramsey was employed by the library for eight years. The seven-member board of trustees is appointed by commissioners.
Fetsick initially said Schmidt-Ramsey was demoted because trustees did not receive an adequate description of her job duties. Kowalcheck said there have been differences of opinion between staff and the trustees, mostly related to questions about bylaws.
Township commissioner Sam Juliano said saving library programs is a top priority for the community.
“We work so hard as the township. We want these programs to continue,” he said.
He said Fetsick assured him that they would.
“The main thing is, the kids aren't going to suffer,” Juliano said.
Kowalcheck said he notified the Allegheny County Library Association. The association has not responded to requests for comment.
Schmidt-Ramsey said she is waiting to present her side of the story to commissioners at their meeting on Aug. 15 at 7 p.m.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Shoppers vexed by choice between getting best bargains, spending time with family
- ‘Nutcracker’ offers even more treats for Grand Theatre audience
- McKeesport wrestling promoters hope for smashing success with anniversary show
- No one hurt in Homestead rowhouse fire
- Duquesne police arrest Wilkinsburg man on drug, weapon charges
- Former Clairton resident killed
- Casey supports food donation tax break extension
- McKeesport Area, South Allegheny, Elizabeth Forward musicians head to holiday parades
- Lost election inspires South Allegheny student’s clothing project
- Membership fees predicted for continued Heritage van use in the Mon Valley
- Clairton waits for legal opinion on tax resolution