Clarkston Farmers Market a growing concern

Clarkston Farmers Market manager Danielle Evans talks with a vendor on Saturday morning at the market in Clarkston.

The Clarkston Farmers Market is embroiled in a power struggle that has landed in Asotin County Superior Court.

The market, a nonprofit corporation, filed a lawsuit against Danielle Evans, who became manager of the community event in 2018, according to the litigation.

A complaint in the suit alleges Evans has continued to be involved in the market even though its board voted unanimously June 3 to remove her as manager over concerns about her performance.

Evans declined to comment for this story, and as of Thursday afternoon hadn’t filed a response to the complaint.

The market was held last Saturday in its regular location at Clarkston’s Beachview Park. Tom Ball, who is identified as the board’s president in the lawsuit, was there and declined to comment.

The litigation was filed after months of difficulties between the board overseeing the market and Evans, who served on the board for a time, according to the complaint, which lists Ball, Shannon Gottschalk and Karen Lehfeldt as board members.

In April, Evans told Ball the board was no longer active, even though the three board members viewed it as a functioning board, according to the complaint. Then in June, the day the board let Evans go, she sent a letter to Ball “et al” stating she had put together a new temporary board and that a permanent board would be chosen in August.

The attempt to create a new board for the market has caused “uncertainty for vendors, who are unclear on who is in charge,” according to the complaint in the suit. “(Evans) is effectively asking farmers market vendors to do business with her, even though she is no longer the market manager.”

The confusion about who is running the market is one of several concerns Ball, Gottschalk and Lehfeldt describe in the suit. Evans didn’t return farmers market property such as checkbooks, cash on hand and vendor information after the board discontinued her employment, according to the complaint. And the board members have questions about a $20,000 grant Gottschalk was told had been awarded to the market by the Washington State Farmers Association.

“(Evans) did not supply the board … with any information about how much she has paid herself or what has happened to the $20,000,” according to the complaint.

Besides the grant, the board had ongoing worries about Evans’ handling of her responsibilities.

“There was no budget, nor clear accounting income or expenses,” according to the complaint. “She continuously sabotaged the board’s efforts to implement bylaws. Her relationship with the board was continually hostile, nontransparent and disrespectful.”

Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.