With cheers and uproarious applause, Theresa Marchione was reinstated Wednesday as senior library assistant at the Round Lake Library, less than two weeks after she was fired for closing 40 minutes early amid a tornado warning.
Interim members of the library’s Board of Trustees approved the “immediate and unconditional” reinstatement of the part-time worker of more than 24 years with back pay. Marchione’s reinstatement following the abrupt resignation of the previous trustees earlier in the day and after Library Director Carol Sheffer quit several hours later.
“Come on back, Theresa,” said Bill Ryan, one of the new trustees, as the crowded Village Hall erupted in cheers.
Though Marchione did not attend the meeting, her son and daughter were present when she was offered her job back. Neither would comment for their mother or speculate whether she’ll return to the library following her controversial dismissal.
“I have no idea,” said James Marchione Jr. “The last few days have been pretty rambunctious.”
The trustees also expunged the record of Susan Poran, a library assistant fired for violating a library policy more than two years ago. Afterward, Poran said she was pleased by the outpouring of support for the library.
“I’m just glad the village has rallied around the library,” she said.
Ryan, who resigned as a trustee to protest Marchione’s firing, said Sheffer appeared heavy-handed in dealing with workers who violated library policy. In both instances, he said the violation didn’t justify the punishment.
“Violating procedure gets your hand slapped,” he said. “It gets a note put in your file.”
Marchione, the sister-in-law of Republican state Sen. Kathy Marchione, shuttered the library branch before its normal 8 p.m. closing time on May 29 as meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Albany were warning a tornado could touch down in southern Saratoga County. A short time later, a powerful storm system spawned a minor twister in the Clifton Park hamlet of Vischer’s Ferry, about 12 miles away.
Marchione’s supporters argued she made the right decision in the interest of the safety of residents using the small library. Many demanded she be reinstated immediately by the trustees.
Marchione had appealed the firing. She started the process by submitting a letter to the trustees Saturday.
Earlier this week, trustees urged patience, indicating their intentions to review Marchione’s firing in due time. The lack of perceived action, however, further fueled outraged villagers during a heated meeting of the trustees Tuesday.
Afterward, the trustees claimed they were besieged by angry residents. In a handwritten statement submitted to the Women’s Round Lake Improvement Society — the private, nonprofit group that owns the library — they indicated the controversy had prompted threats and other attacks from those opposing Marchione’s termination.
“Our deliberations were interrupted by personal attacks to family, children, grandchildren, pets and property. Our staff and their families have also been threatened,” the board members said in the statement, which they all signed.
But with only 21 voting members, the resignations left the improvement society with only a limited pool of candidates to appoint as trustees. Once the trustees who resigned were excluded, they had about a dozen prospective members to choose from — the interim board was approved with 11 votes.
The interim board will serve until January, when a new group of trustees will be elected. By that time, the society could have many more voting members.
“This has given people a wake-up call that they need to be more involved in their community,” said Diane Marchand, one of the new trustees.