County appoints new library board


Three new library board members were appointed Tuesday, just over a month after the Big Horn County commissioners terminated the board.

The new board is Steven Harper of Lovell, one-year term; Ted Menke of Greybull, two-year  term; and Mary Bair of Byron, three-year term.

Chairman Jerry Ewen said, “We had really good candidates. It’s not an easy decision but we did reach a consensus.”

Commissioner John Hyde added, “We did have an awful lot of good candidates for that job. We were very pleased to see that, and that that many people took an interest.”

Others applying were Jack Cates, Annette Chaudet, Barbara Anne Greene, Frank Houk, Jeannette Many Horses and Halli Neves. Lynnette Murray had submitted an application but withdrew when she could meet the interview times, adding that were several qualified candidates.

Interviews were conducted Monday.

Next direction

Ewen said the new board will need some direction from the commissioners. He said they have been made aware of training available through the State Library.

The commissioners, when meeting later Tuesday with Acting Director Donna Capellen, asked her to coordinate with the State Library and the new board members on a day and time that they could meet. The commissioners will be in attendance and they invited a representative from the Big Horn County Library Foundation Board to attend.

Clerk Lori Smallwood said the meeting will be an opportunity for the State Library to provide training and an opportunity for them to ask questions. Then the board can organize with election of officers and set future meeting dates.


Ewen said he discussed having the financial management of the library system brought over to the clerk’s office with the managers at this month’s meeting and “they are eager to do this.”

Smallwood said having the county handle the financials for the fair board has gone well. “It’s 19 more employees, most of whom are part time. It will go with normal flow of work,” she said.

She added that she would like to follow county auditor Jim Reilly’s recommendation of starting the changes with the new fiscal year, July 1.

Commissioner John Hyde asked if that would hinder the board’s oversight over the library system. Smallwood said the board will still have oversight and can approve the vouchers before submitting them to the county, just as the fair board does. The board will also still provide a recommended budget to the commissioners.

“What it does to is take away any accounting concerns and provides a double check on hours and how things are reported,” Smallwood said.

Ewen said it will also free up a lot of time for the library staff by them not having to do payroll and process the bills.

Keith Grant moved to direct the county clerk to set up the necessary process to take over the library payments. The motion was approved unanimously.


Carolyn Walton and Mary Flitner from the Library Foundation presented the check from the Wyoming Community Foundation from the Sykes Foundation for the tech bar upstairs in the Big Horn County Library.

Walton said the WCF cannot provide funds to anything except a non-profit organization and thus the check was issued to the Big Horn County Library Foundation rather than the county library.

Capellen said they were notified they had been awarded the grant and the funds will be used to reimburse funds already spent on the project.

Walton then asked about transparency when they provide funding to the library system. In the past they provided funding to individual libraries but have been directed by former director Nancy Venable not to do that any longer.

She said the foundation board wants assurances that the funding they provide is going to the projects that they intend them to go.

Walton said they have $4,500 they usually provide the library system for audio books and wanted assurance that the funding would be distributed equally. She and Flitner said they have received requests for $1,500 each from the Basin, Greybull and Lovell libraries.

Capellen said she can generate a report for the foundation, but noted the funding would be split between the five libraries including Deaver and Frannie. Walton noted they have not received any such request from Deaver and Frannie.

Walton said the initial request was from just Basin, Greybull and Lovell libraries for $1,500 each. Deaver and Frannie have not requested funding or at least such a request has not been presented to the foundation board.

Capellen said the audio books are not rotated between the libraries but are available through interlibrary loan program.

Walton added that it also appears that the past few years there seems to be a spirit of competitiveness between the libraries rather than cooperativeness and she hopes that will change.

Mary Flitner said the board would also like the libraries to only submit items for things when they don’t have funds in their own budget. In the past they have found out they have funded things when there was money in the regular budget.

Ewen said, “These questions are valid and relevant but should be addressed with new board and director. It’s education and communication.”

In discussing the monthly costs and attendance at the libraries, Ewen asked if she could provide a report on what it takes to operate the Deaver and Frannie libraries, noting they have the least usage of the libraries.

Capellen said she would get the figures but noted that Deaver and Frannie don’t have building costs or utility costs as they are provided by the town, much like Greybull.