Library board trustee nomination draws criticism

Published 1:16 pm Friday, February 24, 2023

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The debate on who should replace Dan Alvarado on the Clark County Public Library Board of Trustees raged during the body’s meeting last Wednesday

When all was said and done, the Board’s decision to nominate Kim Elkins and Carlye Thacker was seen as a positive sign by some and a negative one by others.

The recommendations now go to the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA) for each vacancy, with the state librarian and commissioner recommending names to the Clark County Judge-Executive Les Yates.

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With the approval of the Clark County Fiscal Court, Yates will select the nominee unless the fiscal court has adopted an alternative appointment process through the passage of a resolution.

Before entering into a discussion on who to nominate, the board officially accepted Dawn Alvarado’s resignation.

“I just want to say thank you for allowing me to serve on the library board,” Alvarado said. “It’s been a pleasure.”

Alvarado’s husband, former State Sen. Ralph Alvarado, recently resigned to take a public health job in Tennessee, and the couple will be moving out of state.

Following Alvarado’s resignation, board member Tim Janes – announcing that he and others had reviewed all applications – motioned to approve Thacker and Elkins as nominees.

The motion was approved 3-1.

Board members Janes, Michael Wattenberger, and Doug Christopher approved, with Scott Hisle being the dissenting voice.

The Sun obtained the applications of both women through an open records request.

Elkins, who attended Morehead State University and – among other civic activities – serves as President of the Clark County Republican Women’s Club, expressed in an application her interest in serving as a Clark County Public Library Trustee.

“I would like to be involved in another aspect of our community,” Elkins wrote. “To give back, offer ideas, volunteer time, [and do] whatever I can do to help with the success of our library.”

She also was asked in her application what she felt the library’s role in the future is.

“To expand on our already many services that are available, especially technology, (for older adults) and others in this digital world we live in.”

Thacker, who has a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky and – among activities – runs the Seat of Wisdom Homeschool Co-op, expressed in the application her interest in serving as a trustee.

“The primary reason I am interested in serving as a Clark County Public Library Trustee is that I have been a patron of this library for the last fifteen years and believe that I am now in a position to contribute to its future in a positive way,” Thacker wrote.

She was also asked in her application what she felt the library’s role in the future would be.

“The library serves, primarily, as a key hub in building and sustaining community,” Thacker wrote.

Several residents attending the meeting were not pleased with the nomination.

Those speaking included Mary T. Yeiser, Chuck Witt, Brett Cheuvront, Robin Kunkel, and Tiffani Hays.

Accusations of bias, lacking diverse candidates, and more were made. Several individuals who had intended to speak yielded their time to Yeiser.

“Everyone on the board, with the exception of Mr. Hisle, in the actions you took on the book ‘Gender Queer’ and the statements you made, showed your bias,” Yeiser said. “Of the twenty women who were applicants for this position here…nineteen of the twenty women on this list have college degrees. The only one that did not list a college degree was one of the applicants that was chosen.”

At a previous meeting, the board voted via majority to place the book “Gender Queer” in the Adult Biography section of the Clark County Public Library, stipulating that it could only be checked out by people under the age of 18 that were given parental consent.

Brett Cheuvront argued that the Board needed to take a broader look at who they were selecting.

“You all know what you’re doing. We know it, and you all know it”, he said. “Let’s try to work together. We want the library to be successful.”