Ann VanGheem, a former Payson Humane Society employee, was hired Monday as the animal shelter's new manager. VanGheem, who worked at the shelter from 1994 to 1998, is replacing long-time manager Cindy Bradford, who resigned last month due to a conflict with the society's board of directors.
The board also hired two full-time employees, Tammy Maher and Jim Larson, and two part-time employees, Shalene Riley and Glenn Dekeno, to replace the shelter's three-member staff -- Alison Young and Bradford's husband, Dave and daughter, Debbie -- who resigned in protest when Bradford gave notice.
VanGheem, who moved to Payson in 1990, said she has a background in office management and she managed an exotic tropical fish business in Scottsdale from 1987 to 1990.
She said she resigned from the shelter in March 1998 to pursue other interests, but agreed to fill in last month after Bradford quit.
"I told the board I would spend a month interfacing between the old and the new," she said, "but I felt like I had come home again, so I came on back."
VanGheem said she and her new staff members, who have been working at the shelter as part of a two-week trial period, have devoted much of their time to cleaning and organizing the shelter and caring for the 15 cats and 34 dogs and puppies that have been abandoned there.
"We want each and every one of us to be able to take care of every aspect of the business," she said. VanGheem's duties include administrative paperwork, personnel and public education.
"We're instituting a new program where we're inviting the public to come visit the animals, groom the animals, take the animals for walks and spend as much time with the animals as they wish," she said. "That's something that's never been done before and we want to encourage it."
Over the next year, VanGheem said she and her staff plan to paint the shelter, redecorate, add plants and make the shelter more like a home.
"I'm sure there will be more goals in the future," she said, but we're just getting a start here."