Creston Museum board members told a meeting today they are contemplating resigning following an uproar over the firing of longtime manager Tammy Bradford.
Community members showed up in droves to the Creston Valley services committee meeting to learn more about the changes at the museum.
Since Bradford’s sudden dismissal, those concerned with the museum’s future have made their support of Bradford clear.
Creston Mayor Arnold DeBoon, who chairs the committee, started by reminding those in attendance that the board is filled with volunteers and deserves respect and kindness.
“Although a lot of people are here because they disagree with one or two decisions, do not forget to recognize the work that they have done over the years as volunteers,” he said.
The board members in attendance started their presentation by saying they were contemplating resignation prior to a museum meeting on Monday.
The announcement was met with cheers by the crowd.
President Luke Karata spoke for the board members.
“We’ve tried to deal with this in a responsible way, and we’ve taken our work really seriously. There have been disagreements on the board. There have been disagreements among, I think, each and all of us over different points,” he said.
He said there have been no official decisions regarding their resignation, but he did want to clear some things up.
During the pandemic, he said galleries, libraries, and museums took a major hit to their funding.
As a result, money is tight at the museum, and they are struggling to maintain operating costs.
“I have to be very careful about what I say because we’re constrained from saying, but some information that I received was that there was no money available for capital funding.”
However, he says that information ended up being “somewhat inaccurate”.
“In any event, I think my first term going forward and being the president, the board was trying to have a way forward so that there would be long-term preservation of the capital assets of the society and programs that the society can assure go into the future.”
However, he said he could not expand on that due to legal ramifications.
“The only thing I can say is that in all likelihood, we’ll all be gone. If we don’t resign, we’ll all be voted out. And nobody’s heard the evidence to determine if we should be voted out or not.”
He says that without all the evidence present, such major decisions should not be made.
“I urge funders, and not just the RDCK, but all funders, to demand, first of all, full financial disclosure and operational viability of our organization before they get funds.”
He went on to suggest that the RDCK not provide any funds to the museum until a full operational audit has been completed.
“I think that’s all I can tell you. Nothing else to say. We’re constrained by law from defending ourselves or saying anything to generalize our actions.”
In response, the RDCK says they were always looking at financials for many groups and the best way to be clear on funding is for the museum to make it public on their website.
In a public question period, attendees were told most questions would have to wait until a museum board meeting on Monday that members will be able to attend.
One attendee raised an issue with the attendance policy, claiming there were issues with newer members of the museum being recognized properly.
They said despite paying their membership dues, they are worried about being denied access to the meeting.
The RDCK said they are not responsible for making that decision, only for the funding side of the operation.
“You look around this room. You obviously have a succession plan with all the people that are interested in trying a form of new society going forward. I encourage you to work on that plan on Sept. 11 and going forward. Again, our desire is to have a functioning museum again,” said Mayor DeBoon.