Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

May 21, 2013

Carter County Public Library ready to close the deal on building for branch

GRAYSON — In almost less time than it takes to read a good novel, the Carter County Public Library has found a new building for its Grayson branch and is ready to close the sale this week.

The structure is the Houck Building at 116 W. Main St., which went on the block this year; when the board learned it was for sale and made an offer on a Saturday, the owner accepted the following Monday, board chairwoman Barbara Davis said.

“It happened so fast it just about blew our minds and put us in a tizzy,” Davis said Tuesday.

The library is paying $65,000 for the building and is borrowing $100,000 to pay for it and for renovation expenses, she said.

The Grayson branch was rapidly outgrowing its rented quarters on Ky. 1 outside city limits, where lighting and parking were inadequate, Davis said.

The downtown location will make access more convenient, she said. “Sidewalks are a plus. We had a meet and greet (at the current branch) and there was not a high turnout because it was dark and there were no lights and it was hard to park and walk in,” she said.

The Houck building dates to 1958 and originally housed a furniture store.

The main remodeling expense will be heating and air conditioning, Davis said. The library also will paint and do some other cosmetic repairs. Restrooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act will be installed.

The building, which most recently housed a discount retail operation, is across Main Street from the city park and just up the block from the new county justice center.

Each of its two stories measures almost 4,000 square feet. The building is constructed on a concrete pad and its first floor is unencumbered by interior walls, director Nellie Jordan said. That makes it ideal for library use because the concrete can well support heavy loads of books and the open interior can be configured as needed, she said.

The building was constructed so a third story could be added.

Because the library is financed through Carter County and its two major cities, Grayson and Olive Hill, Grayson is acting as conduit for the loan. The library board has a meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. today and the Grayson City Council will meet at 5 p.m. Thursday to finalize details.

Library representatives plan to meet at the bank Friday with the current owners to close the sale with a ceremonial exchange of the keys at the building around 3 p.m.

Library representatives plan to set up a table out front on Saturday during the Memory Days celebration, Jordan said, and tentative plans call for an open house by the Christmas season.

“To me, this is a huge step for the public library system in Carter County,” she said.

Both the Grayson and Olive Hill branches opened in 2009 following years of discussion and debate and much opposition. Unlike most Kentucky libraries, it does not have a taxing district and depends on Grayson, Olive Hill and the county for its funding.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

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