Moffat County commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday to remove Bryce Jacobson and Leona Hemmerich from the Moffat County Tourism Association’s board of directors.
Commissioner Tom Mathers made the motion to remove Jacobson — the board’s chair — and Hemmerich, saying the two board members had been insubordinate and disruptive. Tom Gray also voted for their removal, while Commissioner Audrey Danner dissented.
Jacobson is publisher of the Craig Daily Press.
Mathers said he initially considered dissolving the entire MCTA board and starting over, then decided against it after discussion with MCTA director Melody Villard.
“It’s just not right (for Jacobson and Hemmerich) to slander the commissioners of the board they work for,” Mathers said. “These things should be able to be taken care of in house, in meetings. But these two people I just mentioned have been in the middle of a lot of controversy and that’s why I’m asking to have them removed from the board.”
Several who spoke during public comment asked Mathers to recuse himself from the MCTA board discussion and vote. Mather’s daughter, Christina Oxley, is the director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce. Mathers acknowledged the conflict but participated in the discussion and vote anyway, saying he doesn’t control his daughter’s wages or employment status.
MCTA board member Kandee Dilldine spoke in favor of keeping Jacobson and Hemmerich on board, saying although she was hesitant about working with Jacobson at first she had come to regard him as a strong leader.
Dilldine said Jacobson also excluded himself from conversations regarding the purchase of advertising in the Craig Daily Press or any of its publications.
Tom Mikesell, a member of the MCTA board, also spoke in support of keeping Jacobson on board. Others addressed the board and all opposed Jacobson and Hemmerich’s removal, while others also asked Mathers remove himself from voting on the issue.
“We are asking him to recuse himself or we are going to take action,” Lee Bates of the Craig Lodging Association said during the public comment period.
But Mathers said MCTA board members shouldn’t “drag commissioners through the mud” when there’s a problem.
“We shouldn’t have to pick the paper up and read about how bad we are and untruths. That’s the problem,” Mathers said. “That’s where I say it’s insubordination. You wouldn’t do that to your boss, you wouldn’t do that to anybody.”
Jacobson said he was disappointed with the commissioners’ decision, but he acknowledged their right to make that choice.
Jacobson said he disagreed with Mathers’ and Gray’s perspective regarding coverage of the MCTA board by the Craig Daily Press. He said he removes himself from the news judgments of the newspaper in its coverage of the MCTA board.
Jacobson said he was extremely proud of the MCTA board and the work and progress they had made.
“I’ve never seen them in a more functioning role,” Jacobson said.
Mathers attempted to remove Jacobson in January but didn’t get the necessary votes to do so.