Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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January 18, 2014

Officials break ground on library expansion

RUSK — A long-waited dream of a bigger, improved facility became realized Friday with a ground breaking ceremony for a 5,700-square-foot expansion project at Singletary Memorial Library.

“This building is all about the community,” said library director Amy Derrington. “It says a lot to me for the city to get behind this project, saying 'Okay, let's do it.' They have a lot of confidence in our community, and compassion.”

Located behind the 6th Street library, the estimated $1.2 million project is under the direction of local builders Berry & Clay, and calls for for a small parking lot and new entrance facing Lone Oak Street, with the original building renovated into a multi-use community room.

“It'll fit the needs of the citizens of Rusk,” said construction manager Britt Patterson, describing a state-of-the-art facility.

Inclement weather notwithstanding, the project is scheduled to take approximately eight months, he said.

Once completed, “we'll have more rooms, more computers” to offer patrons, Derrington said, as well as, house a popular children's summer reading program.

“Citizens are very excited, they've been talking about this since 1973,” she said. “And we've had lots of donations already, we've taken in a little over $40,000 in donations alone.”

After Friday's ceremony, local resident Jeanie Swink, wife of Dr. Jim Swink, gave the library a donation toward the construction project on behalf of the couple. Derrington said their gifts will be used to sponsor the “Words of Wisdom” and “Tree of Knowledge” rooms in the new addition, which more than doubles the size of the existing 1,982-square-foot library, building in the early 1960s.

Mayor Angela Raiborn said the renovation was “very much needed” for the community, and when the city purchased the property adjoining the library lot back in the 1990s, they envisioned growth.

“We've outgrown the existing building – they've got 22,000 books crammed into a small area, and we've got big plans … (the expansion) will allow us to do that,” she said. “The public has been very excited about it.”

By keeping the project – funded through refinanced bonds – in the downtown area, “it helps keep our downtown vibrant and be centrally located is a very good plus to the project,” the mayor said.

Ground preparation will likely take the next two months to complete, Patterson said.

Meanwhile, residents continue to raise funds for the project. Monthly first Friday dances, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, are held at the local civic center, and a “Gone with the Wind” themed event is planned May 3 in a local historic home, Derrington said.

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