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Loan comes through for W.Va. library

August 13, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. — The new public library building in Hedgesville is less than  a year away from opening now that officials have the financing in place to complete the first phase of the project.

Bobby Lewis, the state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development office in West Virginia, joined with local leaders in Hedgesville Tuesday to celebrate the agency’s approval of a $700,000 bridge loan for the project in “probably record time.”

Inside the completed shell of the building, Lewis congratulated the community for coming together in support of the project and the Berkeley County Building Commission for stepping up to help the library obtain the financing.

Lewis said USDA Rural Development had invested more than $387 million to improve housing conditions, build and improve infrastructure, and create and retain jobs in the state in fiscal 2012.

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He said the agency is always interested in increasing the quality of life in communities, noting that he believes the Hedgesville project will accomplish that.

“We’re here to celebrate this happening,” Lewis said.

Because the library cannot take on debt, the Berkeley County Building Commission will hold title to the new branch library until the loan is paid off, according to Pamela Coyle, director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library.

Coyle hopes to pay off the 30-year, 3.5 percent interest loan in less time by continuing to raise funds for the project.

Lewis declined to take credit for helping the loan get approved, but Coyle said they wouldn’t have made it through the loan application process without the support of his office.

Minghini’s General Contractors Inc., was awarded a $1.2 million contract in August 2011 to build the shell and complete the first floor of the building as part of the project’s first phase.

Library officials proceeded with construction in October 2011 with the hope that as the 9,000-plus-square-foot building took shape, the community would contribute toward its completion.

The shell of the stone and two-tone sided structure is substantially complete in the 200 block of North Mary Street, but still requires substantial work inside. A top coat of asphalt also still must be applied to the parking lot.

Once work is restarted, the remaining work should take six to nine months to complete, Coyle said.

Coyle said loan documents and other legal matters need to be finalized in the coming weeks before construction can begin anew.

When open, the Hedgesville branch library’s holdings will be moved from Hedgesville Town Hall, where there are few parking spaces and programming space is extremely limited, according to Coyle.

Hedgesville leaders have waived the rent they have charged the library to allow the library system to apply the money toward to the new building, Coyle said.

She also publicly thanked Minghini’s and architect Newcomer Associates for their “patience and understanding.”

“This has been a long, drawn-out process,” said Coyle, who billed the project as “economic development at its best.”

The library is expected to serve about 24,000 people in the Hedgsville, W.Va., area, providing free Internet access, computers for research and job searches.

A natural light-filled community meeting room is planned for the second floor, and there is also space for adult and children’s programming in the building.

“This is going to make a major difference for Hedgesville,” said Coyle, who lauded the town’s effort to connect the library to the nearby Hedgesville public school campus via a new sidewalk.

More information about the library’s capital campaign for the Hedgesville branch library, including naming opportunities for donors that remain at the new building, can be found on the Internet at www.berkeleycountylibrary.org.

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