Five more Whiting Library Trustees resign Management of library in question without enough Trustees

The five Trustees pictured in this screenshot of a recent Whiting Library board meeting have all resigned. Not pictured is Rosamund Conroy, who also has resigned, and Donna McNeill-Hudkins who has not.

UPDATE: 4:55 p.m. Wednesday, June 1: Hance says that town attorney Jim Carroll believes that there is no reason for the library to be shut down and that there is authority in statute to ensure any bills and paychecks get paid.

By Cynthia Prairie
©2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Five more Trustees of the Whiting Library in Chester have resigned, leaving Town Manager Julie Hance in a quandary over how the library is to be managed in the short-term without its required Trustees to do so.

Earlier this week, Treasurer Ed Grossman, Vice President Rosamund Conroy, and members Carolyn Frisa, Kathy Poston and Lyza Gardner all resigned from the embattled board. This follows last Thursday’s resignation of Board President Robert Nied.

Remaining is Donna McNeill-Hudkins, who told the Telegraph Wednesday that, as for what is next, “I haven’t had time to absorb it all. I have to have time to sit and think.”  She was just elected in March and has only attended two board meetings, she said. Trustees are elected positions, with staggered three-year terms.

The six resignations come following a public outcry over the resignation of Whiting Librarian Deirdre Doran, first reported in The Chester Telegraph on May 16. Doran’s action was spurred by a controversy over who has ultimate say over programming: the Trustees or the librarians.

The situation began in early May over one specific program — Drag Queen Story Hour — which prompted Nied to either ask that the program be paused or in Doran’s words “yelling at me to censor a library program,” citing concerns over public reaction. Later Nied expressed concern over safety and then over one of the performer’s website, which contains adult material.

The public outcry was at times rude, with those deriding Nied and the Trustees outnumbering those defending them.

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Following Nied’s resignation on Thursday, May 25, Frisa was the next to resign, which she did on the late afternoon of Monday, May 30, writing to the board and to Town Manager Hance, “My work schedule and family commitments have become such that I cannot continue to volunteer the time necessary to do my job on the board with the thoroughness the position demands.”  You can read Frisa’s letter here.

Conroy was the next to resign shortly before 5 p.m. on Monday, saying that the “current issues at the library are beyond the scope of what I can offer as a civic volunteer at this time.” Conroy’s letter can be read here.

Then on late Tuesday afternoon, Gardner submitted her resignation “with regret” and offered to “provide whatever support is needed to transition to future leadership.” You can read Gardner’s letter here.

Slightly more than an hour later, Poston, who was just elected in March, resigned, writing, “I am thankful to the persons who elected me and sorry to leave my position.” She added that since more senior board members had resigned she could not “continue without the help, inspiration and support” of the others. Poston’s letter can be read here.

Two hours later — at 8:02 p.m. — Grossman emailed sent an email informing recipients, including Hance, of his decision to resign and ending with, “I will do whatever is necessary to smoothly transition Treasurer responsibilities.” You can read Grossman’s letter here.

Doran’s last day is Thursday June 30.

On Wednesday, Hance said she is consulting with the town attorney to see what next steps are to be taken. She said there are questions of even operating the library since there is not a quorum of Trustees under which it could run. The employees, she added, work for the Trustees, so their paychecks are in question. There is also a process for selection of Trustees, which could take two weeks.



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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Arlene Mutschler says:

    Reading all the comments is an eye opener. I am appalled at the controversy itself. I realize this IS LIBERAL Vermont and there is a package/price that goes along with it. But all sides need to be heard. And I dont think they are being listened to. It is developing a life of its own. And the ramifications will reverberate for a long time. I do know that any contributions that I might have made, will stop as of right now.

  2. Connie Tourigny says:

    Thank You, Barre…

  3. Barre Pinske says:

    This debacle has had a ton of fall out and hurt around it. I’d like to share my perspective. Robert Nied is very liberal, he’s intelligent, accomplished and a much nicer person than many of his reactionary detractors. Robert and I have different views on many things yet we are friends. I can assure everyone Robert is a very very nice man. He loves his wife and his very talented adult child who is ironically LGBTQ. Robert loves the earth he has large solar panels, a green house to grow food, and catches rain water off his roof for his plants.

    He loves Chester, being a part of this community and “Volunteered” to be helpful out of that care. I was looking forward to working with him on the Cannabis Control Board because of these things. This story was not presented or interpreted a balanced way. It’s a no win situation in many ways tough to navigate a bit like stepping in dog shit. It’s hard to get off your shoe, it stinks and it’s not your fault.

    We have been though a lot in the last half decade and it’s triggered a lot of people’s emotions. I spoke with a psychologist the other day he said he has clients off the rails anxiety is very high right now people are not feeling in control lots of people are acting out.

    Our national media bashes people for entertainment and comment sections allow people to say things they would not say to someone face to face. The result in this instance has been the judgement and scapegoating of a volunteer Chair person who was doing their best to protect kids and the community the fall out is community wide including the loss of nearly the entire board. Obviously loosing the director is not good I’m not sure we know the whole story there either they quit very quickly.

    This is what I know. Robert was concerned about kids, potential uproar of conservatives and what he felt was inappropriate on line content accessible to kids researching the performers. He made quick decisions navigating uncharted ground in a vogue time to be WOKE. The back lash has been quick and unfair I feel he deserves apologies and support. I reached out to him personally with a hug and left with a firm handshake I encourage others to do the same. This is a mess it goes to show what happens when the tail wags the dog.

    Yes we need checks and balances of leadership but we put people in positions to try to do the right thing and have insight we don’t have. This is not the 16th century let’s not rush to burn people at the stake because of our own emotional crap we have not addressed, misunderstandings or an act of power we’d like to gain. Who’s going to want to be involved on any small town committee if there is a risk of communications among peers cherry picked to make a story or folks taking a side with out knowing the truth and slinging mud? We are lucky to have things like an on line news source not many places have that but we really have to step our game to be more supportive and understanding of each other in tough situations where malice or harm is not intended. I don’t feel it’s healthy or productive for anyone to use any position of power as a bully pulpit. Robert and his family have not deserved this we need to do better.

  4. Carrie Roy King says:

    For questions and guidance on public libraries policies and guidelines, contact the VT State Department of Libraries at 802.636-0040. Tonya Ryals, Library Consultant – Governance & Management at

    Ms. Ryals helps public libraries in Vermont be as strong, sustainable, and essential to their communities as possible. Works with public library trustees and public library directors to address issues of all kinds relating to running libraries, including the following: training trustees and directors on their essential duties, law of public libraries, and open meeting law; helping with ethics and conflict-of-interest questions; providing resources for strategic planning and advocacy; and answering email and phone questions on a wide range of topics. There is terrific guidance from the VT state library to educate and train library trustees.

    When I served as a Whiting Library Trustee from 2014-2017, I attended a trustee job training workshop provided by VT state librarians. All of this information is available to everyone to read online at the state library website and to discuss in consultation with the Vermont State Library. I attended monthly meetings, learned the laws, guidelines and the Library Bill of Rights, updated library policy, acted as a local library ambassador, worked on the fundraising campaigns 2x/year, and supported the Library Director.

    This is for basic Trustee Orientation

    Here is the link to the VT Library Trustee Manual

  5. Don Dalton says:

    I disagree that “Doran’s action was spurred by a controversy over who has ultimate say over programming: the Trustees or the librarians.”

    This is a red herring; the real issue is what’s appropriate for a public library that answers to the entire community, and not just to those who believe that, for example, pornographers make good role models for children. And yes, the website for Nightpagne does include blatant, unmistakable pornography in one video in particular. That video is titled “WAP,” and now that the secret is out I wouldn’t be surprised if that video were taken down … but nor would I be surprised if it’s flaunted instead. Have a look.

    The Whiting library is a public library, and I know enough about the good people of our community to know that many of us would object to having pornographers serving as role models for our children. And the argument that “they’re just reading” doesn’t fly, unless we want to agree that white supremacists “just reading” to our children in a public library is OK.

    I doubt that many who attacked the Trustees had seen the website in question before “shooting first and asking questions later.”

    I’m most disappointed in the mean-spiritedness of those who assumed that Mr. Nied and others must be prejudiced haters for not agreeing with them.

  6. Polly Montgomery says:

    What a loss to the community this is! These trustees are talented, dedicated, well-educated volunteers who are stepping down. They have been caught in the middle of a toxic situation. I respect their decisions to step down. I understand the larger issue of responsibility and freedom to choose programs; this is the domain of the Director. Her resignation is a great loss to Chester. Do we know if this program was looked at beforehand? Had the web sites of the performers been looked at beforehand? One board member did so and found it to be pornographic and that raises the question of suitability for young eyes and ears. I wonder if the “show” was worth the cost of this. I have seen the clip from Weston; it certainly was not worthy in my eyes. But then again, as a woman, I find Drag Queen performances demeaning. Did any families attend the performance at Pizza Stone? What was the reaction of parents and children? Just curious. A library is such an important part of a community and serves and supports so many of our basic values: education, a love of learning, families, creativity and the foundations of democracy. It is interesting that a library is often a battlefield. These men and women have been sacrificially giving of their time and energy. I appreciate them.

  7. Tim Roper says:

    What a shame. I guess now’s the time for some of the critics to step up and volunteer for town positions.

  8. Sebastian Greenholtz says:

    Things were more or less going fine until Nied decided to go out of his way to undermine the creativity and hard work of the library staff. I hope these resignations are happening out of shame on the part of the trustees for their appalling behavior towards two of the most generous, hardworking, and community-minded people I have ever known.

  9. Donna Matthews says:

    This is indeed a sad day.
    A painful reminder of what is possible when there is a breakdown in communication.

    There are no winners . There are no victory laps to be run.
    The Library is the soul of a town.
    Ours needs to heal.