Village residents are expressing outrage over the firing last week of a longtime Round Lake Library employee.
Theresa Marchione, a 24-year employee of the library, was fired by Library Director Carol Sheffer after she closed the village library 40 minutes early May 29, the evening there was a tornado warning across an area that included southern Saratoga County.
“An emergency was happening, and I think she made the right call, and so does most of the village,” Round Lake Mayor Dixie Lee Sacks said Thursday. She said Marchione was fired because of the early closure.
Faced with the controversy, the library board of trustees held its second emergency personnel meeting in four days on Thursday evening at the library’s Malta branch.
The board met behind closed doors for 50 minutes, and afterward board President Sandra Debus said there would be no comment on the firing.
“This is a personnel matter, and we try to respect and protect the privacy of our employees,” Debus told about 20 residents who showed up at the beginning of the meeting.
The board will hold its regular monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Village Hall, and many residents are expected to attend.
Marchione was terminated two days after she closed the library at 7:20 p.m. Wednesday evening, soon after the town of Malta sounded its emergency siren system because of the National Weather Service tornado alert. One of the sirens is at the Round Lake fire station.
There were severe thunderstorms in the area at the time. Tornadoes were later confirmed as having touched down in Rotterdam and the Vischer Ferry portion of Clifton Park, though not in Round Lake.
The library is normally open until 8 p.m. After the siren was activated, Marchione sent patrons home to seek shelter, then closed the library and left.
Marchione is the sister-in-law of state Sen. Kathy Marchione, a Halfmoon Republican who took office in January.
The Round Lake Library is a private library operated by the Women’s Round Lake Improvement Society, a nonprofit organization. It has been in the village since 1897, and started a new location at the Malta Community Center in 2009.
Its funding comes from WRLIS fundraising and a tax levy collected by the town of Malta.
The village library, also known as Clark House, is one of the main gathering points for the small community, which has a little more than 600 residents. Marchione was well-known to both adult patrons and children.
“The talk is that people are so disgusted with what happened to Mrs. Marchione,” said resident Danielle Rigney, who is vice-president of WRLIS but not on the library board. “It seems very unwarranted.”
Marchione herself has kept a low profile since her firing, and not discussed it publicly.
National television broadcasts at one point last Wednesday evening showed Round Lake as a potential tornado target, Rigney and Sacks both noted.
“It was scary,” Rigney said.
Sacks believes closing the library was the right thing to do under the circumstances.
“That’s an old building that has a lot of heavy books in it and is surrounded by large trees,” she said.
The library board also held a special meeting to discuss a “personnel issue” Monday, at which former Mayor Bill Ryan resigned from his library board seat.
“I didn’t like the direction it was going, and I resigned,” he said Thursday.