Library Moves Forward


Next Step: Hire New Director

The Fort Myers Beach Library’s February Board Meeting was held on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at the Beach Library. This first meeting with Cletus Poser as Interim Library Director began with a Board Hearing on an appeal to a one-year Trespass Order from the library, issued to Leon Moyer on January 28, 2019 by a Lee County Sheriff Deputy.

That hearing began with a presentation by Poser describing Moyer’s actions and emails which led to the deputy issuing the trespass order, followed by a lengthy description of possible intimidation tactics. He concluded with the offer to lift the trespass order immediately, pending board approval, if Moyer agreed to drop further legal challenges. Moyer then agreed to waive his right to present his case and the board voted 6-0 (George Ballantyne was absent) to reduce the trespass time period to 30 days, with Moyer’s library privileges restored on February 28, 2019, providing that Moyer agreed to follow all library rules and behaves with civility and respect to all library staff and visitors. Moyer’s agreement resulted in a truncated hearing.

Under the meeting’s Old Business agenda, Poser reported that the third floor café will soon reopen, though the name of the tenant and menu were not revealed. A roof leak has been repaired. Jan Fleming reported that the money allocated for Dr. Leroy Hommerding’s memorial service was not all needed due to generous donations from the community’s businesses.

In George Ballantyne’s absence, Poser reported on the search for a new Library Director. Nineteen people have submitted resumes in response to ads placed by Poser. He presented the board with a summary of their experience and qualifications and suggested doing initial interviews by Skype.

Miffie Greer indicated that the next step would be for the board to decide what questions to ask the candidates in the interviews and all agreed that all candidates should be asked the same questions. Board members agreed to send their suggested questions to Poser, who would compile them so that at their next meeting they can select which questions to pose to candidates and determine interview times. Interim Board Attorney Anne Dalton reminded the board that all steps in the hiring process should follow the Sunshine Law.

Memory Garden Proposed

Under New Business, Fleming reported that donations in Memory of Hommerding totaled just under $3,000. As the board discussed ways to honor Dr. Leroy, Fleming said, ‘There is a large faction in the town who really think the library should be renamed. Knowing Leroy, I’m not sure he’d want that done. I think a really nice tribute would be a memory garden outside. He loved the bronze statues outside. It would be fitting to have a bust of Leroy in the garden with a bench. Dalton told the board that they would need legislative approval to rename the library. Erik LaFave suggested naming any future new wings after Hommerding, but most board members voiced support for a garden memorial.

The board discussed joining the Florida Association of Special Districts (FASD) at a cost of $2500 per year. Greer suggesting holding that decision until a new  Director is named.

Fleming reported that she’d contacted the Lee County Sheriff’s Office about their free security study offer. LCSO’s Peggy Lince would do a building tour, meet with 2-3 people and make recommendations on how to improve building security. Board consensus was to proceed with the study and Interim Director Poser and Fleming would meet with the LCSO for the study.

During the Library Director’s Report, Poser presented a list of library statistics for the previous four months, showing a steady increase in circulation, attendance and new library cards issued. He reported that Mike Mason had donated an artwork in memory of Dr. Leroy Hommerding. He deferred to Fleming for the February Book Sale report. She indicated that about $2700 was raised during the two-day sale, with $1299 coming in sales on the first day alone. She reported that the next Book Sale would be March 16 & 17.

During public comments, former board member Mark Lafave encouraged the board to hire a Director from within, promoting the hiring of John Lukow as Director, who began working at the library as an intern in 1994.

Library employee Alice Mack also spoke during public comment and made several suggestions to the board that she had previously made to Dr. Hommerding, regarding health and safety. They included having Narcan on hand to reverse a drug overdose. She also suggested putting an AED defibrillator in the library, training staff on chest compressions and implementing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Seabury responded, saying that the Beach United Methodist minister and a chaplain, Ed Steffen, from the Iona McGregor Fire Department, both have made themselves available to library staff at any time.

The next Library Board meeting will be held on April 23, 2019 at 6:30pm in the 3rd floor meeting room at the Beach Library.


By Missy Layfield