The Sierra Senior Society is starting out the new year with six new members of the Sierra Senior Center Board of Directors, after two former board members resigned, and four others were recalled by a vote of a portion of the membership Jan. 3.
Prior to the recall election, the six members of the board of directors were given the option to resign or be recalled by the membership. Two board members, Sharyn Nugent and Beverly South, resigned.
The four remaining board members board chairperson Lee Ward, and board members Oleta Johnson, Barbara Cornet, and Karen Gregerson, were recalled by a membership vote of 26 to 10.
Katie Davis, board president, appointed six interim board members to fill the vacancies through the next general election in May. The appointees are Esther Cooper, Jim Miller, Sharyn Nugent, Clair Roy, Chuck Nugent, and Pat Meadows.
As board president, Davis votes on issues only in the case of a 3-3 tie.
The board of directors oversees the financial stability of the organization. The organization's membership officers, has not changed including Davis, president, Lesalee Miller, vice-president, and Karen Gregerson, treasurer.
According to Davis, the organization's by-laws call for an announcement of a recall one month prior to the vote. That announcement was made at the center's monthly membership meeting on Dec. 5 by senior center member Jim Miller, who also serves as the center's director of maintenance.
Ward said she didn't consider resigning for a second.
"I told them it would be a cold day in hell before I resign," Ward said
"There are about 120 members of the Senior Center and all 120 should have received a letter or been called about the Jan. 3 recall vote," Ward said. "Most of the membership were not aware of the recall effort because they were not at the Dec. 5 meeting."
Ward said she has been with the Senior Center for 20 years and the organization has never had a recall that she knows of.
"I was a little shocked when it happened," Ward said. "I'm a little upset due to the fact that the members were not officially notified all members should have been notified by phone or by mail the recall election was only announced at the prior month's meeting to about 30 people at the most."
"I was at the Jan. 3 meeting and did not even know the vote was taking place in a meeting room adjacent to the main hall because I had stepped out of the meeting for a bit," said a Senior Center member who wished to remain anonymous. "I feel that based on the bylaws of the Senior Society, which I am familiar with, this recall was severely inappropriate because all members should have been notified of this vote by phone or mail, and they were not."
"The board members were notified and removed in compliance with the current by-laws," Davis said.
According to Davis, the change in the board came about after months of disagreement between the membership officers and board members over the direction the organization was going.
Ward said one of the criticisms of the old board was the lack of participation at Senior Center benefit dinners.
"The reason for that is some of the board members have health issues and don't drive at night," Ward said.
Davis said it was more than just the benefit dinners the old board was not participating in.
"It was a lack of participation in all the society's activities and meetings," Davis said.
"There was an obvious disconnect between the progressive ideas of the officers of the general membership and that of the board of directors," said new board member Chuck Nugent. "I think the seniors in the Mountain Area will benefit greatly from the new effort and new programs that will be offered in the near future as a result of this change of leadership."
According to Davis, the Sierra Senior Society remains committed to improving activities and resources to the seniors of the Mountain Area.
Senior Center opened in August 1987
The Sierra Senior Center has been serving residents of the Mountain Area since its grand opening in August, 1987. Instrumental in establishing the center were Bea Alexander and Tyler and Jewel Scott.
A number of programs are offered by the center including bingo games six times a month, and weekly pinochle, bunco games and bridge lessons.
In addition to special events, the center, located at 49111 Cinder Lane behind the Oakhurst Community Center, is also used regularly by the Oakhurst Woodcarvers and Take Pounds Off Sensibly clubs, and free tax services are provided at the center by AARP volunteers.
During a large storm and power outage in March, 2011, the center was used by the American Red Cross as a shelter.
The center is also used as a cooling and warming center during harsh weather conditions.
Although the Senior Center has struggled financially in recent years, the center has been able to make a number of physical improvements due to two Chukchansi Community Grants $45,000 in 2009 and $25,000 in 2013. "The board members were notified and removed in compliance with the current by-laws,"