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County commission helps library progress

The Marengo County library will soon have a new home. In a project that has been ongoing for a couple of years, the Marengo County Commission took a big leap Tuesday by approving an architect.

The commissioners plan to renovate an office building on the corner of Shiloh Street and South Avenue in Linden and move the library there from its current location on U.S. Highway 43.

On Tuesday, the commission accepted the proposal from Ellis Construction for 11.25 percent of the construction costs. An estimate of probable construction costs puts the project needing about $164,300.

The county secured an $80,000 grant from the Alabama Education Incentive Fund, and was required to put up an additional $80,000, for a total of $160,000.

“Once we begin getting bids in for the construction, we can pare things down to stay within budget,” said commissioner Dr. Ken Tucker.

“With the slowdown in construction due to the economy, this could be a good time to bid this project out,” said commissioner Jerry Loftin.

The office building, which will house the library, was built to house some of the county offices when the courthouse was being renovated. Since then, the Marengo County Economic Development Authority has used it as an office for executive director Debra Fox. Fox’s office will be moved to the current library building once the library moves out.

“I’m very excited,” said librarian Joyce Morgan. “We will be moving from a 2,300-square-foot building to one that is 4,400 square feet. That will mean a lot to us. We can offer more services and programs with the additional space that we cannot right now.”

Morgan said she hopes to partner with the schools to offer programs that the students can participate in during school hours. She also hopes the added space will give the library the ability to house a conference room for various community meetings.

Renovations to the new library building will include new interior walls, signs, flooring, painting, plumbing and electrical work.

Other actions taken at the Marengo County Commission meeting included:

Tucker made his selection for his district’s delegate to the newly formed Marengo County History and Archives Museum Board. Katie Echols was named the newest member of the museum foundation’s governing body.

Three of the five commissioners selected their appointees last month to serve as board members of the museum foundation’s board. Commissioner Freddie Armistead has yet to make his pick.

The foundation has obtained the Rosenbush Building on Walnut Avenue in Demopolis in hopes of transforming it into the museum. It will need some renovation before the first display is brought in, but having a location is key in the process.

Current plans for the museum include displays featuring native Americans, especially the Choctaw tribe, the French settlers and the area’s Jewish and African-American heritage. Plans also include a hands-on children’s museum and an archive where people can look things up.

The museum will also house the Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame, which is also in its beginning stages.

Plans are to open the museum in 2010.

The commissioners also voted to raise the amount the county charges for copies of public records from 50 cents to $1.