Commissioners support citizen task force to establish new North Branch Library

Tom Green County Commissioners approved a proclamation in support of a citizen’s task force that will work to raise funds to establish a new North Branch Library during Tuesday’s meeting.

Commissioner Rick Bacon said that Interim County Judge Bill Ford, the library director and himself had met with concerned citizens requesting that Tom Green County Commissioners move to improve the North Branch Library.

Since the County cannot afford a new building for the North Branch, citizens said they would get a task force together and raise the funds for the new building themselves. The only request the citizens have is that commissioners let them bring forth a resolution they can support.

A new library will allow expansions of both children and adult programs, use of new technologies and they will finally be able to hold community meetings. The idea is to build a brand new building because of the many issues that can result from renovation. They also wish to move the new library to a different location.

Craig Meyers, pastor of St. Mark Presbyterian Church, said that for more than 20 years the Tom Green County has provided different types of services for the two library branches, which is not right. He further says that ethnic minorities and economic circumstances should not be discriminated against, that Tom Green County has an obligation to provide equal support to both libraries and that for the library to be built, the commissioners need to go together with library specialists and come up with a plan. The proclamation is only the first step of this obligation.

Although the citizen’s task group will raise the funds, Tom Green County Commissioners cannot just be “cheerleaders,” Meyers said. The county should take responsibility for the project and help with the necessary tools, like finding a location for the library. Meyers further told the commissioners that they have to take ownership of the project. They have to manage the property, spend some money, and go to people and ask them to match the amount. If they do that, he is certain that resources for the new library can be met in six-months time.

Commissioner Rick Bacon responded that the county can own the project, but the Commissioners cannot design it. For that they will need to work with the library. The proclamation was approved.

Other items discussed at the meeting were item transfers and budget amendments for Fiscal Year 2016; the county-wide burn ban, which will remain until the county receives more rain; a preliminary plat for the Haciendas at Christoval Ranch; approval for the sheriff’s office’s application for the 2016/2017 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant; and the Auditor’s Monthly Report for January 2016.

The commissioners also discussed a request to increase the change fund for the Stephens Central Library from $100 to $175; commissioner Rick Bacon’s out-of-state travel to Washington D.C.; a resolution appointing the Water Valley Cemetery Advisory Board; issues dealing with grants and issues dealing with construction; and remodeling projects.

All items were passed during Tuesday’s meeting.