Dade Co. Public Library re-opens amid financial woes
DADE COUNTY, GA. (WRCB) -- There was a time when Dade County Public Library officials weren't sure if it'd stay open much longer.
In July the Dade County Board of Education voted to stop funding it, nearly $40,000. The county and the city continue to pay for it but even the city had to cut some of its funding. However, through all the hardship comes success, at least for now.
Tuesday marked the grand re-opening of the Dade County Public Library after the April, 27 tornado destroyed the old building. Federal and state grants, along with help from local businesses funded the project.
"There was a lot of pain, there was a lot of labor involved but today is a happy day," says Director of Cherokee Regional Library System Lecia Eubanks.
The new building includes an extra 4,000 square feet of books, computers, reading centers and multi purpose rooms.
"Its amazing, its been a long journey but we're just so thankful that its here for our community," says resident Beth Blevins.
However, there is a dark cloud looming overhead. "Our staff has been cut, we're only open 30 hours. It really is troublesome that we have all these news services but less time for the community to have access to them," explains Eubanks.
Officials say the library risks losing its state grant money if local funding drops bellow a certain level.
"That is a risk, certainly," says Dr. Lamar Veatch, State Librarian with the Georgia Public Library Service. "We have a maintenance of effort clauses in our contract with the libraries and we expect the local communities to pull their own weight."
However, the community showed overwhelming support for the library in a straw poll during the primary election, voting that the county should keep funding it. "I know it's a straw vote but it has gained national attention," Veatch says.
Dade County Executive Ted Rumley says he is trying to find ways to fund the library without a tax increase.