02/06/13 — Library still on county's top list

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Library still on county's top list

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 6, 2013 1:46 PM

Mount Olive Town Manager Charles Brown says that he is taking Wayne County commissioners at their word that a new library in the town is still one of their priorities.

Brown said he is not concerned that the library wasn't mentioned at the county Facilities Committee work session last week during which the committee reviewed county properties. Nor was the property included in a handout that featured photos and brief information about the properties.

Both were mistakes, commissioners have since said.

Commissioner Ray Mayo, the chairman of the committee, said at commissioners' meeting Tuesday that leaving the library off the list was merely an oversight.

"The Mount Olive library is still a good project," he said. "It was not left off on purpose. The Mount Olive library is alive and well."

Chairman Steve Keen said the fault might have been his. Keen said he had asked that the library committee so slow down because Commissioner J.D. Evans of Dudley, who was on the committee, was ill at that time and could not attend the meetings.

Evans, a longtime supporter of Steele Memorial Library and the plans to enlarge it, died in December shortly after taking his oath of office.

Keen said he then asked the committee to stop because he had wanted it to have representation from the Mount Olive area.

Ed Cromartie of Mount Olive was later appointed to the commission to complete the first two years of the unexpired four-year term of Evans. He also has been appointed to the library board and was briefed on it Monday.

"We are back on schedule with that (committee)," Keen said. "But I just didn't feel like it was necessary as your chairman to allow that to continue without representation of this board in the Mount Olive district. It is county library, but it is located in Mount Olive, and we certainly want to have representation for them on that committee."

Rumors surfaced after the work session that commissioners wanted to cut the project.

"I am one who takes people at their word until they give me a reason not to," Brown said. "I have no concerns about it because we have their assurances the library is still a priority."

The plan is to renovate the former Belk building on West Main Street to house the new Steele Memorial Library.

Brown said he was aware that the county is looking at the project cost, and that no timetable has been given.

"I am thankful for all of the commissioners for their interest and support of the library system, and certainly the one coming to Mount Olive," Cromartie said Tuesday. "We are very proud of that. It is going to be an integral part of the overall look in Mount Olive. There are a lot of individuals in Mount Olive who are interested in it."

The county continues to wait on new project estimates. County Manager Lee Smith said Monday morning that he was not sure when the revised figures would be available.

The initial estimates placed the library project cost at $3,293,799 with another $500,000 for furniture.