Goodbye, Jessica

Jessica Gonzales at the opening of the new library. (Photo by Dion Ogust)

Jessica Gonzales spent the majority of her three and a half years as library director working on getting a new library and working out of temporary quarters at town hall. But she won’t get the chance to enjoy it: instead she’ll be leaving soon to take a position as executive director of the Grinnell Library closer to home in Wappingers.

“I’ve become really attached to Saugerties,” said Gonzales. “This has become my community, and it’s really hard to walk away.”

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A tough decision, but a logical one. It spares her an hour-long commute.

“I give Jessica a lot of credit for seeing the whole project through, and then handing over the reins,” said friend and library patron Jennifer Mangione. “Jessica’s determination, vision, and devotion to the library project brought to us a wonderful new library that we can all enjoy for the rest of our lives. She will be sorely missed.”

She will be back to visit, says Gonzales, who has served as director since August of 2007.  She plans to continue seeing Dr. Gail Thornton, who has been her dentist for several years, and will stop at the library whenever she is in town. Special trips just to visit aren’t out of the question either, she says.

Betty Ann Pietrzak will serve as interim director while the board seeks a replacement for Gonzales, a role she filled 2007 when former director Sherry Haluska resigned.

“The library is in good hands,” she said. “Betty Ann is very capable, but more important – she really cares about the library and the community.”

The search is on

Library trustees have received more than 40 resumes from individuals interested in the position, and have narrowed the pool of candidates to ten. Over the next few weeks, they will start the process of interviewing those ten candidates, though Gonzales’ shoes will be hard to fill.

“Jessica was a highly motivated and extremely well organized director,” said trustee Mary Alice Leahy. “Jessica was constantly interfacing with the public, the construction management personnel, and the board. It takes a certain type of individual to facilitate that much coordination with aplomb. “

For a town the size of Saugerties, a library director must have a master’s degree and at least two years experience. Leahy says that the director’s personality would be important as well. “The board is looking for an outgoing creative individual that will put the new building to work,” she said. “We are so fortunate to have been able to create this amazing space that belongs to everyone in Saugerties. We’re looking for a director to use it to its full potential – to make it hum.”

Board president Ted Conathan says the process for hiring a new director is fairly straightforward and well underway. If all goes well, he says the community could be welcoming a new library director as early as March or April of this year.

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