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Library awarded $170,000 USDA Rural Development grant, $80,000 loan


June 09, 2010
WHITEFIELD — The library trustees and town librarian received good news last week.

The Whitefield town library won approval in a competitive grant process for a $170,000 USDA grant. The money will be used to construct a building addition and upgrade existing spaces to enhance both children and adult collections and activities.

An $80,000 low-interest loan, already approved at the March town meeting, was also part of the funding package, which totals $250,000.

"This is very exciting news," said town librarian Sandy Holz. "Residents patronize and support our public library, and this grant will help us bring the kinds of books, materials, services, and amenities that they deserve."

The funds will allow the library to enhance Internet access, add a community room, meet American with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, remedy health and safety issues, and increase the historic Carnegie library building's overall energy efficiency.

No date has yet been set to meet again with the architects from Black River Design Architects of Montpelier, Ms. Holz said, noting, however, that an appointment would be set soon to work out the myriad of details involved in expanding an historic building and bringing existing spaces into compliance with today's handicapped accessibility rules as well as best management practices.

A date will also soon be set for an initial meeting of a new "Friends of the Library" organization, she said. No slate of officers has yet been drawn up. Likely at the outset volunteers will concentrate on fundraising, but once the building and renovation project is underway, its role will likely also involve setting up community programs that are typically run at public libraries, Ms. Holz said.

The Whitefield library project is one of three Granite State projects for which funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 was announced on June 1 by U. S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

All are designed to improve needed infrastructure, enhance public safety, and/or create economic opportunity.

"These vital community service projects will improve the quality of life in the towns they serve," said state director Molly Lambert for USDA Rural Development in a press release. "USDA Rural Development's Community Facility Programs, through the Recovery Act, is pleased to support the President and USDA Secretary's goals of providing essential public safety, healthcare facilities, and other rural critical infrastructure, such as public libraries."

More information on the Rural Libraries Initiative is available at mms://ocbmtcwmp.usda.gov/content/secy/cvilsack1CAP.wmv.

The other two projects funded are in Laconia and Hinsdale. The Lakes Region Community Services in Laconia will receive an $85,100 grant to purchase three vans capable of transporting disabled patients and allow them to buy new computers, phone systems, and Internet connectivity for a new office space.

The town of Hinsdale will receive a $38,000 loan and $200,000 grant to purchase and equip a new fire truck.

For more information on USDA Rural Development's Community Facilities Program in New Hampshire, contact Rob Fry at (603) 223-6045 or go to www.rurdev.usda.gov/vt.

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