Suzanne Chomel is the new branch manager of Hageman Library in Porter. The
Westchester Public Library Board approved the hiring Thursday.
According to WPL library director Phil Baugher, Chomel has commitments to
her current employer and the plan is for her to start work at Hageman
part-time on Saturdays beginning in January. She currently works at the
Thomas Library reference desk part-time, which Baugher said has familiarized
Chomel with the library system.
“I believe she is the right person for the job and she will be worth the
wait,” Baugher told the board. “I hope to begin giving her some
responsibility for the selection of new materials at Hageman as soon as
possible.” Chomel will be paid $23,500 annually.
The previous Hageman manager moved out of state after receiving her library
Last month the Library Board hired Jean Chelich as reference librarian at
Thomas. Baugher said although she has a lot to learn about WPL, she’s doing
a great job. In another personnel matter the Library Board agreed to expand
the hours for Tony Baruffi from 30 to 40 hours per week as maintenance
The board also authorized WPL attorney Terry Hiestand to seek an official
opinion from the Indiana Attorney General’s Office regarding whether current
Library Board president Rick Hokanson can seek another four-year term.
At issue is an opinion by the State Board of Accounts that says a library
board member must sit out four years after serving the maximum 16 years in
an appointment cycle. Hokanson previously served four, four-year terms, sat
out one year and is in his second cycle. His current appointment by the
Porter County Council expires April 1, 2009.
Previous interpretation in library circles was that sitting out one year
before reappointment to another term was acceptable --- until the opinion by
a SBA lawyer. The SBA audits library finances and the fear is that the
agency could say a board member is improperly seated.
“I’d definitely challenge it because I don’t even see where it’s coming
from,” said WPL board member Karen Nash. “There’s nothing in writing (in
state law) that even says that.”
Hokanson said he didn’t want to compromise the library’s audit position or
complicate matters in any way. Hiestand said the attorney general could
issue an opinion, especially because other libraries are affected, or choose
not to; how long a ruling on the request could take isn’t known.
“In the mean time, what do we do?” asked board member Vern Odom. Baugher
said since Hokanson’s appointment doesn’t expire until April, there’s time
before making a final decision. The board appointment of Sharon Robbins,
made by the Duneland School Board, also expires April 1 and WPL has sent a
letter asking that she be reappointed.
In other business: