Library Board Re-Elects Officers

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Friends Book Sale Breaks Record

After a two month break, the Board of Directors of the Fort Myers Beach Library met Tuesday night, with a quorum of four members present: President Sallie Seabury, Treasurer George Ballantyne, Rick Sebastian and Erik LaFave. Jan Fleming and Ed Scott were absent.

Treasurer George Ballantyne reviewed budget information for November and December, pointing out line items that were over or under budget for the month. At the end of December, expenditures totaled $291,385, while the year to date (YTD) budget called for expenses of $342,016. YTD Income at the end of December was listed at $1,435,736, already over the amount called for in the annual budget of $1,388,975. Seabury raised several questions regarding line items which Library Director Cletus Poser deferred to Assistant Director John Lukow, who was not present.

The board elected officers for 2020: President Sallie Seabury; Vice-President Rick Sebastian; Treasurer George Ballantyne and Secretary Jan Fleming. The board continues to operate with one empty position since last May when Miffie Greer resigned due to moving out of the district. The board’s charter requires the Florida governor appoint someone to fill the empty seat.

Greer’s seat, Seat 7, as well as those held by Seabury (Seat 5) and Sebastian (Seat 6) will be on the ballot November 3, 2020. The candidate qualifying period for those three seats is noon, June 8 to noon, June 12. Pre-qualifying begins May 25, 2020. A filing fee of $25 is required unless the candidate qualifies by petition. Qualification information can be found at lee.vote under “Candidates.”

Seabury reported that the January Friends of the Library Book Sale brought in over $2,300, a record amount. “Lots of volunteers, constant crowd and it only took 30 minutes to put everything away at the end, we had so many volunteers!”

In the Library Director Report, Poser informed the board that he has completed and filed the library’s Facilities Report, explaining that even with no changes, one is required every five years.

At the Friends annual meeting, Poser said, he was asked about police presence for the Jan 18 & 19 Book Sale, due to its proximity of the one-year anniversary of Dr. Leroy Hommerding’s murder, which took place as a book sale was opening. Poser said he spoke to someone at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) and they offered to provide drive-by coverage throughout the day. When volunteers said that wasn’t enough, he arranged for a LCSO deputy to be present for the hours of the sale at a total cost of $504 to the library.

Seabury said, “If nothing else, it was a matter of comfort for those working the sale, some of whom had been at the library when Hommerding was killed on January 20 last year.” LaFave noted that a deputy on site would probably not have prevented Hommerding’s death and he didn’t think it necessary to have police presence at a book sale. Sebastian said that if visible security was desired there were several less expensive options available, suggesting private uniformed security. He suggested getting quotes for private security and sharing them with the Friends to let them decide if they wish to invest in book sale security. Other board members agreed and asked Poser to look at security options to present to the Friends before their next book sale.

“It’s something to explore. We certainly don’t want people frightened to come to the library. There is a sense of security knowing someone is here,” said Seabury.

Poser brought up the possibility of opening the stairwell so patrons could walk to the third floor instead of using the elevator. He’ll check with the Fire Department about safety issues related to propping the stairway door open.

During public comment Fort Myers resident and former library employee Alice Mack repeated a complaint about Hommerding and waste of staff time.

The third floor Commons area currently sports a tree decorated for Valentine’s Day by the Estero Island Garden Club. They plan to decorate it using a different theme each month.

The next Library Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 25 at 6:30pm in a third floor meeting room at the Beach Library.