Reader questions council’s vote on library board application

Thank you for the opportunity to explain to your readers a matter that troubles me greatly and may be of concern to others.

Dear Editor,

Thank you for the opportunity to explain to your readers a matter that troubles me greatly and may be of concern to others.

As an interested, concerned citizen of the Rimbey area, having been a part of this community for 40 years, I attended the meeting of town council on January 13, 2014.

One of the items of business was a motion regarding Gayle Rondeel’s application to be appointed to the library board.  There were no questions asked by council members re the duties or qualifications of members of the library board and no questions or discussion regarding the applicant. There was a call for a secret ballot – the only secret ballot of the meeting.  Following the vote, the mayor announced the results: “defeated”.

My immediate response was to question “why” and during question period”, I asked three questions.

What are the qualifications required for sitting on the Library Board?

The reply from Council was interest in literacy and learning; ability to work with people and groups in the community.

I then asked if council has faith in the librarian’s ability and experience to recognize good potential board members?

The reply was a suggestion that I ask Mrs. Keetch that question.

I asked council on what grounds, other than personal prejudice would a council member vote against a motion that would put Gayle Rondeel on the library board?

The reply was a reference to the answer given to the first question.

I was puzzled, and I still am wondering why Gayle’s application was rejected.

Based on her track record of community-mindedness, her experience working with people, and her commitment to getting the job done, she would seem to be a shoo-in.

During the time she was president of the slo-pitch association, Rimbey got its ball-diamonds. While she was vice-president of the soccer association, Rimbey got its soccer pitches. When president of the Kinettes, Gayle received the outstanding president and master club award. Under her leadership the local Farmers’ Market has grown from fewer than 10 tables to one of the most innovative and thriving markets in the province.

As town councillor she worked successfully on several committees and it was she who initiated the   Friday afternoon sessions aimed at giving the public an opportunity to meet informally with elected officials. As a point of interest, at the opening of the library, when it was located at the Co-op, Gayle was asked to represent the general public at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Adding to the mystery as to why her application to join the library board, which is a volunteer position, is the fact that in the nine years of Jean Keetch’s work as librarian; and in memory that stretches back to the creation of the library board, no other applicant has been rejected.

I have pondered council’s decision for several days and I have no answer as to why. I have only more questions.

Does council not realize how important the board is to the operation of the library? (It is currently short three members.)

Does council not realize how valuable volunteers are, and how difficult it is to find them?

Did council take into consideration the effect its decision might have on other potential volunteers?

Is it perhaps that the individuals on council were not aware of Gayle’s contributions to numerous boards, and to the community she has been a part of for more than half a century?

Or is there something rotten in the Town of Rimbey?

One final question: Will council, in the wisdom that comes with hindsight, reconsider its decision?

Florence Stemo