With a new executive director ready to start in two weeks, the Humane Society of Utah expects to recoup about three-fourths of the $2,000 spent in preparation for his predecessor, who quit before even beginning the job.

Gene Baierschmidt, currently marketing director of the Easter Seal Society For Crippled Children & Adults of Utah, will spend his first day as executive director attending a Minnesota management seminar sponsored by the American Humane Association.The society had paid for the week-long seminar after hiring Utah State University MBA candidate Craig Cottle about two months ago and agreeing to keep the job open while he finished several classes. But Cottle quit shortly before he was scheduled to report to work on March 21, saying he had been offered a better job in banking.

Society president Craig Cook, an attorney, had said Cottle must pay back money spent on the seminar, invitations to a welcoming luncheon and a newsletter with an article about him. Cottle has said he is not responsible for the money spent.

Now, with a replacement able to attend the seminar, Cook said the amount of money he believes Cottle owes the society has been reduced from about $2,000 to around $500.

Cook said he still wants the society reimbursed for the cost of mailing 100 amended invitations to an April 5 luncheon that was to have welcomed Cottle as the new executive director and honored longtime society chief investigator John Fox. The luncheon will go on as scheduled.

The new invitations have a line through Cottle's name and Baierschmidt's printed next to it with the word "Oops!" in parentheses. Beneath the amended invitation is a note reading, "Hey, this isn't so bad -- it took the U.S. Senate three tries to find a Supreme Court justice; it only took us two to get an executive director!"