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SE City Council terminates library director

SLEEPY EYE – By a 4-1 vote Wednesday, the Sleepy Eye City Council approved a resolution to terminate library director Andrew Kelton effective Aug. 10.

The termination was requested by City Manager Bob Elston and was approved after about 30 minutes of deliberation by the city council.

Elston told the city council that his recommendation to terminate Kelton came because he knowingly falsely reported starting working 30 minutes to an hour before he went to work on a number of occasions beginning last September.

“Overall his conduct erodes the public trust,” Elston said.

Councilor Larry Braun cast the dissenting vote on the resolution that came on a motion by Councilor Doug Pelzel, seconded by Joann Schmidt.

“It’s unfortunate. He was good,” said Councilor Nate Stevermer.

“I heard from so many people that he did a good job,” Councilor Schmidt said.

Kelton said the library was not growing when he began working there a few years ago, so be began creating new library activities.

“More people began coming to the library and thanking me for making it the place to be,” Kelton said. “The libary is my second home. I have the support of many community members.”

Kelton said he should have been given oral and written warnings but neither happened. He admitted to recording 17 hours of work, worth about $470 of his salary, when he wasn’t working.

Kelton said he worked more than 40 hours a week at times and used his own money to do library maintenance.

Councilor Braun said he felt terminating Kelton was “harsh.”

“He admits he made a mistake. Do we have to get rid of him now?” Braun said.

Elston said the city found out what happened and dealt with it.

“It’s about falsifying payment for a public entity,” Elston said.

“It’s stealing from our budget,” Councilor Schmidt said.

“And from taxpayers,” Elston said.

About 80 people watched the city council meeting online via Zoom or phoned in. Kelton said about 60 people that supported him were outside the city building.

The city council unanimously approved a resolution establishing the unfeasibility of in-person meetings.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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