Manager's dismissal causes theatrics at Nugget
Several employees at the Nugget Theater in Hanover have quit within the past week to protest the dismissal of Terri Macomber, who was formerly the house manager.
The Nugget, a movie theater located across the U.S. Post Office on Main Street, is owned by the Hanover Improvement Society, a non-profit group dedicated to beautification projects in Hanover.
According to employees who have resigned, 12 of the 21 part and full-time employees have left the theater in reaction to what they see as the Improvement Society's unfair treatment of Macomber.
Tom Byrne, the Improvement Society's general manager, said he received five or six letters of resignation and a few sets of keys that were dropped off at the theater by part-time employees.
"After nine and a half years working behind your concession, I believe with all of my heart that your move of firing the Nugget Theater Manager Theresa Macomber showed me that your goals and the Nuggeteers' goals for the Nugget are not the same," Alison Pierce wrote to the Improvement Society in her letter of resignation.
Byrne said long-time workers like Pierce and Martha MacDonald, who worked for 16 years, would be sorely missed.
The theater has hired an acting manager and a high school student to accomodate the resignations. "We haven't missed a movie yet," Byrne said.
In a letter dated May 10 to the Nugget staff, Byrne said Macomber quit her post since she was uncomfortable with some restructuring of positions at the theater, but Macomber denied she left her position willingly.
She said the Improvement Society terminated her position because she voiced her opposition to a newer film projector that would have allowed them to eliminate the projectionist position.
"She wasn't fired," said Jack Skewes, a member of the Improvement Society. "We redefined the position of manager with different responsibilities from what her job had."
Skewes said the new manager position at the Nugget requires marketing skills, additional equipment and technical knowledge and longer working hours.
"We made it clear she could apply to the new position if she wanted to and she would be given the same consideration as anyone else who applied," Skewes said.
At a meeting with Macomber at Lou's Restaurant Tuesday afternoon, six former employees said they quit because they could not continue to work for the same people who had dismissed Macomber.
For more than an hour, the employees voiced their frustration with the Improvement Society's decision, which they said they feel was in opposition to the Society's role to serve the community.
"I've known Terri for 20 plus years and watched her go through all the things she does to make a theater run," said Jess Laware, the former full-time custodian and groundskeeper at the Nugget. "She produces a family atmosphere, a workable atmosphere."
Skewes said the Improvement Society had acted in the best interest of the community by streamlining the operation of the theater, whose profits are funneled into the Improvement Society's other projects.
"It's our judgment that what we propose to do is where we ought to be. I mean, we're in the 1990s," Skewes said. "Part-time employees are free to any opinions they have."
Macomber said the society has given her severance pay, a letter of recommendation and offered to pay for career counseling. Macomber said she plans to put the Nugget behind her.
"They want to restructure the theater to have it do what they want and they have the right to do that," she said.