LOWVILLE — Citing fiscal concerns, the Lewis County Historical Society board of directors is planning to eliminate the position of executive director.
Board members on Tuesday night, after discussing the matter in closed session for about an hour, voted 14-1 to eliminate the positions of executive director and research center director, pending the approval of legal counsel, because of budgetary constraints.
Both positions are held by longtime society Executive Director Lisa J. Becker.
Ms. Becker did not attend Tuesday's meeting, and attempts to contact her Tuesday afternoon and evening were not successful.
The society's financial situation was not discussed during open session Tuesday night.
The historical society's office and museum on South State Street will continue to operate under the guidance of an intern through the Pratt-Northam Foundation and volunteers. The society also owns Greystone Manor in Martinsburg.
Last week, society members at their annual meeting directed the board of directors to dismiss Ms. Becker, according to minutes from the meeting. Society members also filled five vacancies on the board, then selected four of the new directors — all past board members — as the new officers of the 16-member board.
Hamish Davey, a past president of the board, again was appointed to that position. Other new officers are Vice President Carmen A. Sweet, Secretary Charlotte M. Beagle and Treasurer Jerry E. Perrin.
A few months ago, a number of historical society members and past board members, including some of the new officers, addressed the society board with a laundry list of concerns about the organization's operation and leadership by Ms. Becker.
The group complained about a perceived stranglehold she had on the society and the fact that she was being paid as both executive director and research director.
Alleged problems with handling of dues, administration of grants and other collected money, access to pictures and artifacts and membership issues also were brought up.
Many of the detractors called for an independent audit to determine whether funds had been properly managed.
However, plans for such an audit are now on hold, as the state attorney general's office is conducting its own review of the society's financial records from the past six to eight years, according to the annual meeting minutes.
Lee Park, a spokesman at the attorney general's office in Albany, said Tuesday that he could not confirm or deny that such a probe is taking place.
Johnson Newspapers writer Adam Whitney contributed to this report.