03/11/09 — Renovated library now open again in Fremont

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Renovated library now open again in Fremont

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 11, 2009 1:46 PM

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More than $100,000 in donations and in-kind contributions as well as work by numerous volunteers helped renovate the Fremont Library, which reopened this week. The library had been slated to close when the community decided to unite to save it.

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Richard Jones, a Fremont resident, looks through the books on the shelves of the town's newly renovated library Tuesday afternoon. Jones said he looks forward to spending a lot of time at the library using the Internet and looking through the nonfiction books.

FREMONT -- Seven months after closing for renovations, the library in Fremont is open again -- thanks to its community supporters.

During a grand reopening ceremony held Monday, Friends of the Fremont Library Committee and about 30 other residents toured the like-new facility repaired by volunteers using more than $100,000 in donations and in-kind contributions.

"Here is your library back. Let the reading begin again," said Stephen Knotts, chairman of the Friends of the Fremont Library Committee.

The library will be open from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Mondays and from 2 until 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturday.

And it's all because the community turned out to help get the work done and gave generously toward the effort.

Cash donations totaled $83,000. Stocks Building and Supply Co. of Wilson donated all new doors and windows.

"That was worth almost $20,000," Knotts said. "We replaced all of the doors and windows except we kept the leaded glass over the entrance."

Charles and Mary Bruton donated the landscaping and signs, which Knotts said would have cost the Friends $18,000 if the group had to pay to have the work done.

And Chris Knotts of Knotts & Associates in Hillsborough created a Web page for the newly reopened library.

It took a lot of work, and a lot of volunteers chipped in to help when town officials found out the library was not up to standard.

The county had threatened to close the library because of limited use and code violations. The 2,500-square-foot building needed improvements to its heating and air-conditioning system, its roof, its wiring and its plumbing. The structure also had issues with asbestos, didn't meet federal requirements for handicapped accessibility and needed a fire alarm system.

But the community pulled together and saved it, and Fremont Mayor Devone Jones said he is proud of the people who live in Fremont.

"The citizens came together like I have never seen," he said.

The process was long and slow, Knotts said.

"We closed in August for the renovations, and the work is still in progress," he said. "The kitchen area is not complete, but all the other areas are ready to go."

The volunteers packed up all of the books and went to work like they were members of the same family, said Geraldine Jones, a member of the Friends executive committee.

"I feel it brought the community together," she said.

The group built memories, too, she said, like the day they held a chicken dinner sale. Some of the volunteers had never cleaned a chicken before. They took orders telling people the plates would be ready at noon. But by 10:30 a.m., they had all sold out.

"We made some money, too. About $1,000. People would come pick up a $6 plate and give us $20," she said.

And now, the building looks great, Town Administ-rator Kerry McDuffie said.

"It's exciting and a relief at the same time," he said.

Mary Bruton, who helped with the signs and the landscaping, brought her 13-month-old grandson, Nick Bruton, to the grand re-opening.

"Nick has been sitting in here all through the process, smelling the cleaning stuff. I'm excited. I can't believe it," she said. "We were just talking about what you put in you get out. The people want it .... And when Steve said, 'Here's your library back,' I could feel my heart beat."