The head of the Wood River Public Library is out of a job, apparently ending a battle with the mayor over an investigation into another employee of the library who was later charged with theft. Diane Steele was removed from her position during a library board meeting earlier this week, after new members were appointed to the board, including the police chief, a city council member, and the city finance director.
Assistant Library Director Kate Kite has been appointed the interim library director following the 7-0 vote by the library board on Wednesday to fire Steele who had been director for 16 years and worked in the system for the past 29 years. The disagreements with city hall exploded last month after finance director Nancy Schneider questioned a request for reimbursement from a library employee for classes he took at SIU-Edwardsville. Schneider reportedly asked for documentation that 29 year old Reilly Belli took classes totalling $7,000. When Steele failed to produce the forms, Mayor Fred Ufert began the process of replacing board members with Schneider, Police Chief Otis Steward and City Council Member Sharon Kadell. Steele reportedly attempted to remedy the situation with Belli through the library board and asked for his resignation, but says she was hampered because the information was in his personal file. Belli was later charged with theft over $500.