JONESBORO — A Craighead County Quorum Court committee recommended one new member to the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library Board of Directors Monday. But the public service committee split 2-2 on a motion to table the proposed appointment of Whitney Hicks to a second seat.
A motion to recommend her appointment to the full quorum court died for lack of a second.
County Judge Marvin Day said Tuesday he had not talked to Hicks since Monday’s vote and hasn’t decided what to do next.
Hicks would have succeeded Curt Hawkins, who had resigned from the board.
If the 13-member full quorum court approves, Michael Watkins of Bono will succeed Amanda Escue, who recently resigned due to residency questions.
The library has been embroiled in conflict since June following a display in the children’s library promoting Gay Pride Month.
Day responded to a question regarding his thought process for making his selections.
“Kind of my goal for the library board is to be a reflection of the whole community,” Day said. “I don’t want seven librarians sitting on the library board and I don’t want seven people from Jonesboro sitting on the library board.”
Day said librarians have their opinions on how the institution should operate and many patrons have differing views.
“My hope is that everyone can calm down and find a way that all parties involved in the county can find a way to utilize the library and feel safe and welcome,” Day said.
Day said he nominated Watkins, a retired farmer, in large part because of his experience as a former member of the Westside School Board.
“Not taking away from anyone, but from my watching the videos of the library board, I think someone with experience on how to manage a board, kind of like the quorum court, would be a benefit to them,” Day explained. “Being a little bit more organized, not allowing things to grow up.”
Hicks has a degree in elementary education and is a certified teacher.
“And she represents a lot of people that are home schooling, that utilize the library on a frequent basis, and there are a lot of them. And a lot of people that have those feelings and want to have the opportunity to be heard.”
Hicks is a daughter of state Rep. Brant Smith, R-Jonesboro, and one resident, Karen Newberry, said that relationship should disqualify her from consideration because of comments attributed to Smith that appeared to be threatening the library’s funding. Smith, who attended the meeting, denied making the threat. Newberry has served as assistant child librarian.
Others who applied for a board seat were: were Valerie Carroll, the Rev. Annie Jones, Daniel Parker, Jennifer Clack and Roseann Askeland.
Justice Jason Price sought to table the Hicks nomination until the committee’s next meeting. Price and Justice Brad Noel voted in favor of tabling the nomination while Richard Rogers and Kevin Williams voted against.