Cit­i­zens ask coun­cil for li­brary fund­ing help

The Covington News - - Front page - DANIELLE EVER­SON deverson@cov­

Cit­i­zens con­cerned about the New­ton County Li­brary ap­peared be­fore Cov­ing­ton City Coun­cil on Mon­day night to dis­cuss ways to help fund the trou­bled li­brary.

New­ton County Mag­is­trate Judge Kim De­go­nia spoke on be­half of the group. De­go­nia ex­plained the cur­rent con­di­tions of the li­brary and why it was im­por­tant to the community.

“The Cov­ing­ton chil­dren’s li­brary is not in good shape. The com­put­ers are over a decade old. They are in need of re­pair or re­place­ment. The car­pet in places is torn and un­even. And most up­set­ting of all, the li­brary no longer has the funds to have a chil­dren’s li­brar­ian,” De­go­nia said.

She shared pic­tures with coun­cil, which showed the dam­ages and cur­rent con­di­tion of the li­brary. De­go­nia told coun­cil that books were not on the shelves and she and about 30 vol­un­teers took time out of their Satur­day to or­ga­nize the books. De­go­nia said work still needed to be done at the li­brary and stressed the im­por­tance of the fa­cil­ity to New­ton County.

“My chil­dren and I be­lieve the chil­dren of New­ton County need this li­brary,” De­go­nia said. “We all need the chil­dren’s li­brary. Early lit­er­acy pro­grams help to en­sure that we have a lit­er­ate work­force, which we need if we want to at­tract and keep busi­nesses here in Cov­ing­ton,” she said.

De­go­nia told the coun­cil she had a group of con­cerned cit­i­zens ready to raise money and asked the coun­cil to form a sub­com­mit­tee to help fig­ure out ways to ad­dress the prob­lems at the li­brary.

“I’m not here to ask for a hand­out for the li­brary,” De­go­nia said. “We just want to ex­plore the idea of a part­ner­ship be­tween con­cerned cit­i­zens, the city, and the county for the pur­pose of rais­ing money for the li­brary with match­ing funds,” she said.

De­go­nia said the com­mit­tee would also in­clude mem­bers from the New­ton County board of com­mis­sion­ers and con­cerned cit­i­zens. She said she wants to raise at least $10,000 in the next year for the li­brary, and asked the coun­cil to match those funds if they were raised.

Coun­cil­man Chris Smith said the city al­ready do­nates money to the li­brary and said he had con­cerns about giv­ing more money to the li­brary.

“We do give $30,000 at this point to the li­brary that we re­ally don’t have to give.” Smith said.

“I have a hard time giv­ing city tax­payer money to this be­cause we’ve al­ready agreed to give $30,000.”

Coun­cil­woman Janet Good­man also had con­cerns about giv­ing more money to the li­brary.

“I know the cit­i­zens al- ready give money to the li­brary through their taxes and a lot of times our cit­i­zens com­plain be­cause they feel we are dou­ble dip­ping,” Good­man said. “I don’t know if the city should come to the res­cue when the ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple are in the county.”

Mayor Ron­nie John­ston also com­mented on the is­sue.

“This is a tough one be­cause I to­tally un­der­stand the chil­dren’s as­pect of it and I think it’s ac­tu­ally more than just that, John­ston said. “The as­pect of it be­ing a re­source cen­ter for many of our cit­i­zens to go and use com­put­ers to look for jobs and those kinds of things — I do think there are many other re­sources they can use,” he said. “But also I do un­der­stand and re­spect what Mr. Smith is say­ing. There is a fi­nan­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity that we have so it’s a real tough is­sue. “

The coun­cil agreed to cre­ate a sub­com­mit­tee, but said they would not give any ad­di­tional money to the li­brary at this time.

In other busi­ness, John­ston read an oath of of­fice to new Cov­ing­ton po­lice of­fi­cer Matt Cooper.

The coun­cil agreed to pur­chase a new truck for the gas depart­ment for $22,340 and also agreed to seek bids to pur­chase a new ve­hi­cle for the san­i­ta­tion depart­ment and the com­mu­ni­ca­tions depart­ment. The coun­cil also agreed to seek bids to pur­chase self con­tained breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus equip­ment parts and ser­vices for the fire depart­ment.

The coun­cil ap­proved for streets to be closed off on Sept. 30 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for a Breast Can­cer Aware­ness Ben­e­fit. Some of those streets in­clude Wash­ing­ton, Church, Monticello and Main streets.

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