Local News

Humane society supporters call their own meeting

SEBRING - Humane Society volunteers and donors have decided to meet at 4 p.m. Saturday, but the board will not be there, Vice President Sandy Anderson said Thursday.
After shelter director Amanda Helton was fired last week, a Facebook page sprang up to bring her back. Hundreds of comments were posted. Humane society volunteers took sides, some with President Judy Spiegel and the board, others with Helton. Many resorted to name calling, and one used an anti-Semitic slur.
"The board as a whole is dealing with this, and will be making a decision on how to handle it," Anderson said.
"We will be responding to this as soon as we have all our information together," Anderson said. "We will not be at the meeting. We have nothing to hide, but ... we're not ready to hold a meeting."
Volunteers had hoped to hold the meeting at a neutral site, Dr. Elton Gissendanner's veterinary clinic.
However, he said Thursday, "I've told them, as long as both sides are present. But we're just a vehicle in this. If they want to come and talk, they can check their weapons at the door.
"I'm being facetious, but I'm serious too," Gissendanner insisted. "It's very vicious, what's going on out there."
Gissendanner was adamant about not taking sides. So was Barry Edgley, who was among those who called for a meeting with the board.
"I'm not out to bash anyone," Edgley said. "Amanda is no longer there, and I'm very sad about that, but there's nothing I can do about it. I'm not in charge."
Edgley, who runs his own private animal shelter in Hardee County, said he asked Spiegel earlier this week, face to face, if she would meet with the disgruntled humane society supporters.
"She wouldn't give me an answer," Edgley said. "We have some concerns about the federal and state paperwork not being completed properly. We think some things were dropped. We've spoken to some of the old board members about it, and they said they weren't allowed back on the premises. So we don't know what's going on. No one believes there is an issue with the way animals are being treated. We're just worried about bad bookkeeping."
Edgley spoke to Gissendanner on Thursday and promised the veterinarian that if the board members don't show up, he'll merely hand out papers asking each member for their questions.
"We'll have no raised voices," Edgley said. "Everyone will remain very calm, cool and professional, or I'll personally turn them out,"