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Library district plan steps ahead

Published on August 8, 2017 2:47PM

The newly formed Wallowa Valley Library Foundation will soon know if a special district option for the county library is feasible.

Board chair Autumn Wilburn of Enterprise announced last week that the Foundation had received the Oregon Library Services and Technology Act Program grant that would pay for a feasibility study.

Ruth Metz of Ruth Metz Associates in Portland will conduct the study beginning immediately.

The foundation formed on June 26 shortly after the Wallowa County Commissioners announced that a nearly $1 mil budget shortfall would require the closure of the county library. Public outcry was immediate, and by June 13, a petition with 803 signatures had been presented to the commissioners opposing the closure.

As a result, the county commissioners announced that they would keep the library open with severely restricted hours as long as a community group was making appreciable progress toward an alternative-funding plan.

Putting a proposal for a special library district on the May 2018 ballot was determined to be the best direction the group could take.

The consultant would also help with the political and public engagement process, district boundaries, a service plan and a three-year budget, as well as determining the tax rate. All of those are required to qualify for a ballot slot.

Kim Witherrite of Imnaha recently stepped down as chair and Autumn Wilburn of Enterprise, former vice chair took her place. A new member is now sought for the vacated rural position on the board. Other members are Maggie Holcomb of Wallowa, secretary and treasurer; Lorien James of rural Enterprise; Kay Sawin and Kirsten Rohla of Joseph; and Tamara da Silva of Enterprise.

The Wallowa County Library at 207 N.W. Logan in Enterprise is currently open eight hours a week Tuesday 8-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. and Wednesdays 8-11 a.m. The branch libraries in Imnaha and Troy have reduced hours from eight a week to four. “Deliver-Me-A-Book!” will only have one delivery a month for the Enterprise and Joseph areas — down from two.

There will still be a Training Wheels Storytime 10 a.m. Tuesday mornings at the county library. The changes will remain in place until the next public hearing on the closure of the library 10 a.m. Sept. 13 in the Thornton Room at the courthouse.

The Wallowa County Citizens to Save the Library Facebook page, where new developments are posted and conversations continue, now boasts 55 members.


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