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Senator delivers check for planned library

May 28, 2004|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., stopped in Smithsburg during a swing through Western Maryland on Thursday to officially announce a $298,230 federal grant for the town's planned new library.

The money brings the total raised for the project to a little more than $1 million, but library board President Judith Ferro said fund-raising will continue.

"We're hoping we have enough money," Ferro said, but because of rising building costs, "we're a little nervous."

Ferro said the board hopes to raise another $100,000.

Perched on a step-stool behind a lectern on the current library's front lawn, Mikulski credited the library board and its supporters with raising the bulk of the money for the new library, which is to be built at Veterans Memorial Park on West Water Street.

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Project supporters raised $800,000, including grants of $200,000 from the Washington County Commissioners and $50,000 from Smithsburg.

The Smithsburg facility is a branch of the Washington County Free Library.

"Building libraries is really a function of local government," Mikulski said, "but we knew that you also wanted to be able to enhance access to computers."

Because the new library is to house seven computers - providing the town with what she called "a community technical center within the confines of the library itself" - and is to provide literacy training and a community room, Mikulski said the project qualified for an Economic Development Initiative grant.

"We wanted it to be $300,000, but we had to take a little nick," she said.

Mikulski said the grant, which she and U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., helped to secure, was "not about bricks and mortar; it's about clicks and modems."

As for the 1813 building that now houses the library, Smithsburg Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said its fate has already been determined. The town's historical society will move in when the library moves out.

"It's a real good trade-off," she said.

Groundbreaking for the new library is expected to occur in the fall, Ferro said.

In the meantime, the Smithsburg Lions Club plans a country auction to benefit the library on June 12.

The library also plans to run booths at local festivals this summer and to appeal to residents and businesses who have not given.

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