Earle to seek grants for new Library
Quorum Court backs effort to secure funds
The county library is applying for two grants totaling $250,000 to help build a new library in Earle.
The Quorum Court gave the library board permission to apply for the grants from the Arkansas Community and Economic Development Program for $200,000, and one for $50,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Earle library branch is only 600 square feet and isn’t big enough to accommodate all of the programs being offered at the library.
The building also doesn’t meet fire or safety standards.
“They are currently in an old building,” said Justice Vickie Robertson, who chairs the finance committee.
Last October, Earle donated a vacant lot across from Young’s Grocery Store on the corner of Commerce and Main Streets for a new library to be built on.
County Librarian Debbe Davenport said the estimate to build a new building is about $248,000 for a 1,089 square foot facility.
Justice Ronnie Sturch, who chairs the county’s buildings committee, questioned the estimate.
“That’s $250 a square foot,” Sturch said. “I’m no builder, but that sounds like a lot of money.”
Davenport said it was just a ballpark estimate from an architect who donated time to put together a proposal for the library.
“He came up with a rough estimate for the cost of the building,” Davenport said.
“We had to put something together to go forward. But we think when we go out for bids we can do better.”
“I would hope do,” Sturch added. “I know it’s not county money we are spending. It’s a grant. But seems high.”
East Arkansas Planning and Development District, which is assisting with the grant, puts the cost at about $179,000.
“That sounds a little more reasonable,” Sturch said.
Librarian P.J. Ewing, who has been a tireless advocate for a new building, said the Earle library is growing fast and needs the space to serve its users.
“There are some really good things happening at this library,” Ewing said.
“We have people from all over coming to use the library and we just don’t have the space to do all that I want to do there. We have
Librarian P.J. Ewing
people coming to use the computers for job searching. The kids do their driving tests. It is a busy library.”
The library recently added four new computers — two of which were donated by Earle City Councilman Kenneth Cross — bringing the number of available public computers to six. “If I had a big enough facility to do all of the things I have in mind, we would have triple the number of users,” Ewing said. “I’m just so thankful for this town and the library board and Quorum Court for supporting this and doing what is right.”
The grant application is due March 31.
By Mark Randall