In the latest development in a month of upheaval at the Cypress Boys and Girls Club, all but one of seven staffers were fired this week by the club's board of directors.
Gary Ousted, the only staff member retained by the board of directors, was named interim director for the summer. In the meantime, the board will continue its reorganization efforts, which got underway earlier this month and resulted Monday night in the dismissal of the six staffers.
Board President Don Kennedy blamed "budgetary constraints" as the reason behind the employees' dismissal.
In an effort to quell concerns and rumors over the club's operation, the board also decided to set up several focus groups to study various issues raised in the last few months, including the use of grant monies.
"This is part of our strategic long-range planning," Kennedy said. "There has to be evaluation and discussion."
Put to rest Monday were rumors that the club was in danger of losing both its funding from the United Way and its charter from the Boys and Girls Club of America. Representatives from both organizations appeared at the meeting and assured the board that the group's standing was not in danger.
The club was also thrown into turmoil last week when executive director Ray Thomson quit after nearly nine years.
At that time, all but two staff members were suspended, causing concerns over the future of the club. Board member Nancy Whitson, an outspoken critic of the changes, said she is happy that the board is slowing down and taking some time to study concerns.
"I am feeling all right about things now," Whitson said. "What is important to me is that grants not be lost. It looks like that is not going to happen."
While the board met Monday, the club's operations were the subject of discussions at the City Council meeting. Last week, the city's Parks and Recreation Department took control of the club's summer program at the board's request, a move that angered some residents.
Addressing the council, longtime resident Alice Rogers blamed new board members, many of whom took office in the last few months, and the council as initiating a "hostile takeover" of the operation.
"Three months a board member does not an expert make," Rogers told the council, adding that she was asking the state attorney general's office to investigate.
Mayor Richard Partin denied her allegations. "This City Council has had no direct bearing on what is happening at the Boys and Girls Club," Partin said. "This council as a whole has had nothing to do with it."
Operation of the club will remain in the city's hands until the end of the summer program. The club's board is expected to decide whether to take back control at that time.