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YMCA president resigns

The Tyrone YMCA Board of Directors accepted the resignation of its president, John Harlow. Harlow faxed his two-page resignation letter to the YMCA Wednesday evening shortly before the 7 p.m. meeting. A copy of that letter was also released to area media organizations, including The Daily Herald.
“Due to the wishes of the Tyrone YMCA Board of Directors, I am resigning my position as president of the Board and my position on the Board effective immediately,” the letter reads.
“I would like to thank the Board of Directors for their concern and love of the Tyrone Area YMCA,” he further said.
The resignations come in the wake of the revelation that the venerable nonprofit organization did not pay its share of state and federal payroll taxes, to the tune of almost $70,000.
Harlow addresses a number of issues in his letter, including the accomplishments during his term — such as improvements to the Children’s Center and increased fundraising.
The crux of the letter deals with Harlow’s knowledge of the current financial situation and where the responsibility for it rests. Harlow started on the Board in July of 1999 and was president from January 2001 until his resignation at last night’s meeting. He also served as interim Operations Manager, along with Mike Yeaton and Keith Beisel, from October 2001 through March of this year, due to the abscence of a director. Yeaton and Beisel no longer sit on the Board, a point Harlow makes in his letter.
The only person who served on the Executive Committee prior to this February is myself,” he wrote. Harlow also points to board members Jim Bigelow, Laura Burghard, Dave Russell and points out that they did not notice the unpaid taxes, as well. “The Executive Committee receives reports no different than any other Board member,” Harlow wrote.
Mike Blaska, a 23 year volunteer veteran of the YMCA who has served as Vice President of the Board since January of 2002, and has been a member since January of 2001, said that he went into last Thursday’s meeting not knowing the Executive Committee would be under attack.
“I was under the impression that it was a work session to meet with members of the community and discuss the situation,” he said Thursday morning. He pointed out that a motion was made, and seconded, that the Executive Committee resign.
“The community did not ask for the resignation of the Executive Committee, it asked for the resignation of the whole Board,” Blaska said in reference to the August 13 meeting where a number of attendees called for resignations. “If they want the Executive Committee to resign, the whole Board should resign. I did not resign, I was voted out.”
Harlow’s letter also lists five points to “set the record straight.” First, he states, “I had zero knowledge of this tax problem before it came to light.” He also contends that he wanted to go public with the tax situation from the onset.
“There were others on the current Board who wanted to approach businesses saying we have had hard times, but not mention the taxes,” the letter reads.
Harlow also asked each member to reflect whether they have the best interest of the YMCA at heart and challenged them to step aside if they did not.
In his last two points, Harlow directly addresses the current Director, Amy Hampton. “If the current Board wants a Director who puts in partial days and brings her dog to work, the more power to them.” He also accuses Hampton of pointing a finger to the Board when addressing the question, “Who is responsible?”
Harlow also criticized Hampton for refusing to take a pay cut. She noted Thursday morning that the subject was broached by a Board Member at a meeting, but that the Board never pursued it beyond that discussion. She did confirm that she said she would not be willing to take a pay cut and that this occured before the tax deliquency came to light.
Harlow also noted Hampton has refused to take on responsibilities he said were carried out by previous directors. In the letter, he mentions a plan to restructure the front office, submitted by Hampton, that would have cost the YMCA more money, but does to note the specifics of that plan or dollar amounts.
Hampton said Thursday morning that she wasn’t sure where Harlow received his information concerning her working partial days, but did confirm she has brought her dog into work. “The kids loved him,” she said. “I thought he lightened the mood around the Y.”
She said the issue concerning job responsibilities focused on an internal debate as to whether the Director could effectively manage all of the programming and membership as well as personally handle the day to day operations of the organization.
Harlow wraps up his letter by urging the community to support the YMCA. “Don’t wait until the YMCA is in trouble to help,” he said. “The YMCA is a cornerstone of this community. Help take care of a treasure to this community.”