Chelsea L. McGowan

After more than a week of questioning by reporters and citizens, members of the Doss Heritage and Culture Center board of directors have released a statement claiming their organization’s policy prevents them from speaking out about personnel issues.

However, since the abrupt dismissal of two senior staff members earlier this month, statements made by both current and former board members prove that policy isn’t always strictly adhered to.

“The Doss Heritage and Culture Center is grieved to see the series of negative articles in The Weatherford Democrat that appear to be the attempt by some to discredit the center and its volunteers who have created, worked for and established the museum and its operations in Parker County, Texas,” the letter states. “The efforts of our volunteers and our operation, for the most part, are subject to review by all or any with real concern; however, employee matters are, and must remain private for the benefit of the institution, and more importantly, for the benefit of the employees involved. It would be inappropriate for the Doss Heritage and Culture Center members or the board of directors to discuss any reasons for termination of its prior employees.”

The statement deems any discussion of terminations “inappropriate,” which contradicts a statement reported earlier this week by a local radio station.

As of press time, a news item was still published on the Web site of QXFM, quoting DHCC Executive Director John Scovil as saying Gabe Schooley and Leslie Madrid were terminated for financial reasons.

“Tough times sometimes warrant tough decisions,” the release quotes Scovil as saying. The article also states Scovil “made a point of saying” the departure of the two staff members had nothing to do with their job performance.

However, there is some discussion as to whether or not Scovil ever made such a statement to the radio station.

While calls to Scovil have gone unreturned for more than a week, board member Dorothy Doss said she didn’t believe the quote was accurate.

“I know John didn’t say that to them,” she said. “It certainly wasn’t financial reasons. They were let go because of their performance. But policy says I can’t talk to you about that.”

After allegations of personality conflicts and secret meetings followed news of several board members resigning their posts, the question was raised as to whether or not the DHCC is held to Texas Open Meetings Law because the organization receives $30,000 a year in funding from the City of Weatherford.

While the written statement from the board of directors says the workings of the center are “for the most part” subject to review from public citizens, it has yet to be established whether or not this transparency extends to financial and personnel issues.

The statement from the Doss was sent on new letterhead, reflecting a change of guard on the board of directors since the board president and other members resigned recently.

Seventeen directors are listed on the letterhead, however, only 16 signed the statement sent to the Democrat.

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