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Vienna narrowly avoids summer wreck

The Vienna town board approved summer recreation director Lauren Seamans' choice of assistants July 5, four days before the program was set to begin July 9. Board summer recreation liaison Steven Carpenter resigned two weeks earlier, June 21, throwing the hiring and planning process into disarray.

Unforeseen circumstances have made it impossible for me to continue in the role, Carpenter wrote in a memo.

He sent out another memo that day directing that any summer recreation-related issues be directed to Councilwoman Nicole Pilcher, also serving on the committee.

Carpenter had earlier approved Seamans' choice of assistants to help run the program, but when he resigned, Supervisor P. Michael Piper took over Carpenter's duties, forcing Pilcher aside. For a while, it didn't look as though Seamans' selection of staff would be approved or that she would be willing to continue if the board was intent on micromanaging the program.

Seamans, a teachers' aide at North Bay Elementary School, met with the board in executive session and insisted she be permitted to keep those she had already interviewed and felt qualified to assist with the program.

This is taken care of, but what is to come? Seamans asked after exiting the closed session. I just want people who are going to work with the kids.

It worked out OK, Seamans said later. I've got the job; I'm not going to say anything that might cause trouble.

But others were not so tight-lipped about the board's heavy-handedness in nearly turning a program for youth into another squabble.

Every year, it's the same problem, said Shirley Christian, whose daughter Tiffany was hired to work in the program. Nothing is done until the week before. There is no process put in place. By April, they should have a system in place for hiring [staff] and training mentors.

But Piper denied Christian the opportunity to address the board further about the program.

Why can't one talk about the summer rec program? Christian asked.

Because it's a personnel issue, honey, Piper said.

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