1. Archive

History museum director resigns

The museum director around whom a two-month controversy has swirled will step down from her $30,000-a-year post next week.

Betty Quibell has resigned and will leave July 31 after 2{ years as executive director of the Safety Harbor Museum of Regional History.

"I've done all I can for the museum," Quibell said. She would not comment on the reasons for her resignation.

Quibell said she will not deal with the museum in any capacity.

Amanda Edenfield, the museum's assistant director, was named interim director at a museum board meeting Thursday evening.

Meanwhile, the city is preparing to examine the museum's financial and operational records, amid allegations Quibell misused museum funds. The museum asked city commissioners for $40,000 at a budget workshop July 11. But commissioners want answers before they give money to the museum. They formed a task force that will meet next week to begin investigating the inner workings of the museum.

They also will conduct a full audit of the museum's finances.

In June, the museum lost $4,731.77. For the fiscal year ending Sept. 31, the museum is behind $15,003.56.

Along with straightening out the museum's finances, Safety Harbor Mayor Pam Corbino wants the museum to alter its focus to more recent history of Safety Harbor, an 85-year-old community. The museum now highlights the pioneer and native settlers of the region.

"We need to find ways to get the community involved in this museum," Corbino said.

Commissioners hope to have recommendations from the task force by October. Then they'll decide how much funding the museum will receive. They also may earmark where the money goes.

Andy Steingold, the vice president of the museum's board of trustees, said some with the city worked tirelessly to get Quibell out.

"Mission accomplished," Steingold said. "Betty leaving as the director should appease the city officials. It seems everything was targeted at her. The city's business is running a city, not a museum.

"It has been their aim to basically get rid of her. It's obvious. Let's give a hand to the city."

He said the museum board did not ask Quibell to resign and have uncovered no wrongdoing in her time as director. He was surprised to learn she was stepping down.

"She's done everything we've asked of her," Steingold said.

Corbino said the city had no stake in seeing Quibell leave. Commissioners became involved because the museum's financial problems surfaced.

"The city should pay more attention because the museum's asking for more money," Corbino said. "It's the only fair thing to do for the taxpayers."

Five people have left the museum within the last two months because of personality conflicts. Board members Jeffrey Maricle and Denise Mineo resigned, saying they could not be work with Quibell. Board member Vicki Krueger left, saying the situation had spun out of control. Carol Bryant, the board's former president, was removed because of a series of clashes with Quibell.

Now Quibell has resigned.

"She was the wrong person for that position," Bryant said. "This is a great chance for the museum to get a fresh start and bring in a fresh group to really turn the museum around."

Quibell's resignation will hopefully bring city money, too, Steingold said.

"There was a difference with those feeding, the city, and those needing, the museum, and by extension, Betty," Steingold said. "She sees what's in the best interest of the museum. She was in the way of getting those necessary dollars."