The Pike County Humane Society board of directors on Oct. 27 hired a new executive director, the third to serve so far this year.
Christine Cahill was hired for $35,000 a year during the executive session following the meeting. She lives in Nazareth, Pa., near Allentown.
She is a member of Hound Hunters and has done extensive rescue work in the Allentown area.
J. Michael Freeman, the director who resigned two weeks after he was hired, was offered $33,000. Freeman was hired to replace the longtime director, Barry Heim, who left following an accusation of sexual assault by a humane society employee. Heim denies the accusation.
All calls made every half hour to Pike County Humane Society were met with busy signals, when the Courier attempted to reach Cahill to discuss her goals for the humane society.
Janet Heim, Barry Heim’s estranged wife and a former board member, said Cahill may have “a potential conflict of interest because she is involved in all these other rescues. She lives over two hours away. They overlooked qualified applications from local people who could address night issues and emergency issues immediately. They also overlooked the staff who are qualified to run the shelter and have worked at the shelter for many years. Why would the old board hire someone new when a new board is soon to be elected?”
Election on Nov. 23
The election of new board members will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 23, in St. Patrick’s Parish Hall, where an armed security guard will present.
Sarah Cadigan and Michelle Ransom will join Mary Cervanti on the nominating committee and in overseeing the election.
There are six open seats on the board: three are for three-year terms, two for two years, and one for one year. Qualifications to run include being a member and having paid a yearly membership fee of $25, volunteer work for a minimum of three months or 40 hours, and attendance at one fundraiser.
Only members may vote. Members must be present to vote. There will be no mail-in ballots.
A letter of intent with qualifications from anyone wanting to serve on the board must be received no later than ten business days prior to the election on Nov. 23. Mail letters of intent to PCHS, P.O. Box 255, Milford, PA 18337.
Jo Martin of Matamoras told the Courier she gave a letter of intent and her resume to the board to become a member.
The rules of engagement
Signs that set down some rules greeted those entering the Oct. 27 meeting. Attendees would not be allowed to walk in and out. The doors would lock behind anyone leaving the room.
An security guard watched over the meeting with a gun on his hip and a camera on his chest.
“Why the camera?” someone asked.
“It’s for your protection and mine,” the guard said.
The cost to rent the parish hall and hire the security guard for the Oct. 27 meeting and the election on Nov. 23 totals $350.
The guard and ground rules were a response to recent humane society meetings, which have grown ever louder and more chaotic.
Cervanti said she wouldn’t take critical comments. There was no agenda made available to the public. Everyone stayed quiet.
Shortly after inviting comments, Cervanti asked members of the audience to leave quickly because the parish hall rental was for only one hour.
Heather Tringo volunteered from 2007 to 2009 and was hired in 2009. She is now the office manager and supervisor at the shelter. She said the meeting was “almost too controlled,” with the public not allowed to give input or ask questions.
She pointed to her mask, where she’d written “TRUTH.”
“The entire staff is trying to help each other get through this very difficult time,” she said. “I feel strangled no matter what. The board has done damage to the organization. I am concerned that in voicing my opinion after 14 years that I will be further stifled.”
Tringo sent a text message after the meeting: “Bottom line: This is about the animals. The care for those animals. It is about those who are in the trenches every single day and night, who have selflessly given of their extended time and efforts, openly communicating for the betterment of the animals. And not to deflate their morale in their love for what they do. This is about the extension to help the community as best as we possibly can. Including law enforcement agencies, who call upon us, not only during ‘business hours’ but anytime our help is needed.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct the cost of renting St. Patrick’s Parish Hall and hiring a security guard. The cost is $350 for both the meeting and the election, not the election alone. The Courier regrets the error.