Richard Crino submitted his letter of resignation to the SBK advisory board earlier this month with an effective date of June 11. Crino did not return a phone call last week seeking comment.
In his letter, Crino thanked Sullivan County and the SBK Animal Center for the opportunity to serve as director, noting a lot of progress has been made to make Northeast Tennessee a better and safer place to be an animal.
“It has become evident of late that the SBK and I are no longer going in the same direction and it is apparent that it is time we part ways,” Crino wrote.
Vice-Mayor Tom Parham, who is also the president of the SBK board, described Crino as professionally experienced and knowledgeable and said it was not true that Crino could not get along with the SBK managers and staff.
“We are really a start-up organization, formed by pulling together the Sullivan County and Kingsport animal shelters, and we’ve come a long way. We’re at the point where we’re taking a look at where we’re going, what our future is and what our opportunities are,” Parham said. “Now that we’ve got the organization in place and well-trained, our focus is going to be much more directed at the community, with training, education and fundraising.”
According to the resignation letter, Crino and Parham negotiated a positive separation and compensation package, wherein Crino would receive a severance package of two months pay along with being paid for the week of June 10 in lieu of accrued vacation and personal time not taken.
“That’s only the right thing to do really,” Parham said of the compensation package.
In 2011, Kingsport and Sullivan County agreed to merge their respective animal shelters into one operation after the Sullivan County Humane Society — which ran the Kingsport facility — announced it did not have the funds to continue running the shelter. Bluff City soon after joined in and the new operation went live July 1, 2011, with Crino at the helm.
Parham said the animal shelter has put together a gap plan while the search for a new director is under way. Former Sullivan County Commissioner Joe Herron, who previously served as president of the SBK board, has come back to help with the operation of the organization.
Parham said the new director would likely be an external hire and someone more connected with the community, in terms of fundraising, education and special projects. One main goal of SBK is to have a consolidated shelter, likely half-way between Kingsport and Blountville, within the next five years.
“We’re going to take our time and re-assess. We were not really prepared for this,” Parham said. “We’re sorry to lose (Crino), but we’re excited for his future. He’s been good for us and I hope we’ve been real good for him.”