WEST (December 12, 2013) Karen Bernsen, the executive director of the West Long-Term Recovery Center, which has come under fire for the slow pace of the distribution of donated funds, is stepping down.
She announced Thursday she’s resigning effective Jan. 30 or once a replacement is found.
Bernsen recently came under fire for a column she wrote that appeared in the West newspaper in which she was critical of ungrateful residents, but she said Thursday that didn’t figure in her decision to resign.
"After praying about this for months, the decision was reached several weeks ago to resign,” she said in a statement Thursday.
The timing was held in abeyance until the team was in place to support the continuing recovery efforts of the residents of West,” she said.
“This has been the most challenging, yet rewarding work I have ever done, and it's been an honor to serve my community in this capacity,” she said.
The West TX Foundation, which oversees the LTRC, also announced Thursday that its board secretary, Tiffany Bolton, has announced her resignation.
A replacement will be named in the next few days, the foundation said.
Bernsen will assist as a volunteer as needed, the foundation said.
“John Raimer has accepted the position of reconstruction manager,
and Matt Pirko has been hard at work for the last few weeks as the LTRC operations manager,” the foundation said.
“We are grateful for the service of those who are moving on other things, and we welcome those who are just joining the effort.”
The LTRC was created to coordinate relief efforts and distribute donated funds in the aftermath of the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 and left more than 200 injured.
The force of the explosion damaged or destroyed dozens of homes and buildings including a nursing home, a two-story apartment complex and three of West’s schools, only one of which can be repaired, according to a report from a firm hired to assess the impact of the blast on the facilities.