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Funds sought for library

By Staff | Mar 2, 2011

Rosanne Eastham, director of Tyler County Public Library, approached the Middlebourne Town Council on Tuesday evening to ask for monetary support for the struggling facility. On hand to support the library’s request were Carol Ann Kucharski, president of the Library Board, as well as Marlis Seeger.

The library is seeking help from the Town of Middlebourne, the Board of Education, and the Tyler County Commission to keep state funding at its current level, which will be in jeopardy without matching local tax funding. Local non-tax based funds used as matching funds cannot exceed the amount of local tax based funds. Without state funding, it will be very difficult to maintain services, Eastham explained. In order to receive the grant-in-aid funding of $16,866, the local tax-based funding must equal that amount.

In 2010, the Town of Middlebourne contributed no funding to the library. Although the County Commission allocated $2,000 and Board of Education contributed $7,000; total funding fell short by almost $8,000.

The Town of Middlebourne was bequeathed the B. Swan property in Middlebourne to be used as a library and for “no other purpose” as directed in the will of Hallie Swan Haught in 1966. In 1976, an ordinance was adopted by the Common Council of the Town of Middlebourne that states “said Town of Middlebourne hereby accepts the devise in the will of Hallie Swan Haught, which devised unto the said Town of Middlebourne a parcel of land described as follows: Lot No. 100, Main Street, Middlebourne, Tyler County, West Virginia, to be used as a public library under conditions of the said will.”

Under the terms of the will, a levy was to be adopted “sufficient to support” the library. In addition, the will calls for the Town of Middlebourne to “landscape the lawn and garden” and “care for same.”

According to council, the library is “technically” the property of the Town of Middlebourne. However, there was some debate as to what that entails. This past year, the Tyler County Library spent $1,712.50 in groundskeeping expenses.

“If the town owns the property, then the library has been incurring the town’s expenses,” commented council member Doug Doak. “We (the town) should be paying for that.”

When fundraising was suggested as an option for the library, it was explained by Eastham the library is not allowed to raise funds for itself. This must be done by an outside entity, such as the “Friends of the Library Commission.” While the library once had such a commission, it is now defunct. The library commission cannot currently operate due to failure to submit tax exemptions over a period of six years, which resulted in a penalty in the amount of $750.

“How soon do you need to know about the funding?” asked Mayor Gayla Fisher. Eastham explained that funding could be affected this year if matching dollars could not be obtained. The deadline for the grant-in-aid requirements to be met is June 30.

Council Treasurer Dave Smith informed Eastham that council “can’t give any hope or indication at this time” concerning donations. He then expressed that the replacement of old equipment at the water and sewer plant had really “put a strain on the budget last year,” indicating the expenses incurred had affected council’s ability to contribute to the library. “You can only have what you can afford,” he added.

“Things look a little better for the next budget year,” he continued, “but we haven’t received the valuations from the Assessor yet, and won’t be preparing the new budget until March. I would suggest you come back to us in March,” he told Eastham. “It’s a lot harder to say no ‘in person’.”

“The library offers a place for local residents to job-hunt, take online classes and create resumes,” Eastham said. “In this depressed economy that is an important service we provide.”

“We offer many benefits to the community,” she added.”The library needs your support.” Eastham thanked council for allowing her to express her concerns.

“We need to look at everything closely concerning the budget,” remarked Mayor Fisher. Adding a levy to the ballot is not possible for the upcoming city election, she added, but could be a consideration for the next year. It was also discussed that the Town of Middlebourne could perhaps allocate some funds from other departments in the case of the landscaping expenses. Council then thanked Eastham for her presentation. No decision about funding was made. A date of March 21 was set by council to consider the budget.

In other matters, city election nominations were read. All incumbents whose terms are up are slated to run for the upcoming term. Dave Farhat also accepted a nomination to run for council and will be on the ballot. The drawing for positions on the ballot will be April 5. Elections will be held June 14. Two persons nominated to run for office, declined.

Council approved a request by Outlaw Graphics and Outlaw Automotive to shut down Broad Street from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 19. The business will be sponsoring an auto show featuring race cars on that day. David Doak made the motion to accept the request with Councilman Rodney Miller seconding.

Another request was granted by council concerning the placement of a double-wide mobile home. AAA Homes will place the structure on a lot for the benefit of Community Resources, Inc.

Mayor Fisher informed council that the Main Street revitalization project has been given the go-ahead and funding has been allocated. Council is at this time waiting on a notice to proceed, at which time bids for the work will be solicited.

Main Street grants are available to older downtown business districts for the purpose of improvements with emphasis on retaining the traditional and historic character of the location. The project, which will be done in stages, will provide sidewalks and handicapped access to the main street of Middlebourne, among other upgrades.

Mayor Fisher also noted that the water and sewer project was nearing completion and that the flocculator had been installed.

A letter from West Virginia Congressman David McKinley, who requested city council’s input on the top three areas of need for Middlebourne residents, was also discussed at Tuesday’s meeting. Council agreed to give the matter some thought and reply to the Congressman in the near future.

Council meeting was then adjourned for the evening. Those attending were: Mayor Gayla Fisher, council members Suzann Farhat, Dave Smith, Dave Meyers, Verna Henthorn, Doug Doak, Bob Clem, and Rodney Miller, and Rosanne Eastham, Carol Ann Kucharski, Marlis Seeger and others.