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Hayes in, Black out on Library Board

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Dougherty County Commission voted to place one of its own, District 2 Commissioner John Hayes, on the county's Library Board of Trustees, ousting long-time board member Gene Black in the process.

The vote came in a special called meeting Monday morning, moments after the commission grilled interim Library Director Mary Antoine on the closing of two library branches in the county.

"Looking at your budget of more than $2 million, the cost to operate the two closed branches (Southside and Westtown) was about one-sixth of your total cost," District 5 Commissioner Gloria Gaines said after Antoine gave an annual report on the library system. "If you combined the patrons of those two libraries, it comes to more than one-sixth of the number of patrons served by our library system. My question is was the cost per-patron considered when the decision was made to close these two branches?"

When District 6 Commissioner Jack Stone suggested one or both of the branches could be opened later, Gaines said, "Later is now."

Stone responded, "We don't have the funding now. Are you going to give them the money to open those two branches?"

"I'm looking at the numbers, Jack," Gaines replied. "I'm just saying we could have split the baby differently to keep those branches open. Perhaps instead of full service at the Central and Westside branches, we could have taken some (funding) from those branches to keep the others open."

Antoine told the commission closing the two branches had saved the county library system $300,000. She said it would take an additional $500,000 to re-open them. She also said the Central branch had visits from 128,758 patrons during the last fiscal year, while the Southside branch had around 33,000.

"I see (closing the branches) as a situation of pay now or pay later," District 3 Commissioner Muarlean Edwards said. "By not having libraries to serve the population that needs them most, we're increasing the chances that they'll end up as part of the jail population."

Asked about the possibility of keeping the library branches open for 37 1/2 hours a week, Antoine said the system had looked into the possibility and was told it would lose state funding if it did so.

Tasked at the special called meeting with filling two expiring terms on the board, the commission appointed Hayes and re-appointed James Hill. Gaines asked if the commission could consider increasing the number on the Library Board to eight so that Hill and Black could both be reappointed, but Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard pointed out that commissioners had decided not to increase the size of the board at last week's meeting.

John Burr and Betty de Vane Hatcher had also sought appointment to the Library Board, but neither was nominated for consideration.

In another key appointment decided during the called meeting, the commission re-appointed Lamar Reese to the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County and named Dr. Michael Laslie to replace Dr. John Inman Jr. on that authority. Inman had served the maximum two five-year terms. Emily Jean McAfee had sought appointment to the board but was not nominated.

Bruce Gunnels and Joe Watkins were re-appointed to their positions on the Tax Assessors Board, while Commodore Conyers was approved for another term on the Voter Registration and Elections Board.

Comments

whattheheck 1 year, 8 months ago

The decision already made was the correct decision. This has become a matter of race rather than economics and the bumping of Gene Black from the library board is a racist action. If the black community insists the branches stay open, let them fund the mistake.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

Just following Obama's lead. Spending 40% more than you've got from now to eternity and trying to force somebody else to pay for it.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

The old adage "use it or lose it" should apply here. They weren't using it and should lose it.

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ittybittyme 1 year, 8 months ago

Interesting how the black community only wants what benefits them instead of what benefits the ENTIRE community. They always want something for nothing...writing checks their * can't and will not cash. Sick of the black community and black politicians.

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broke 1 year, 8 months ago

2 board members term expiring....1 black male and 1 white male. Gene Black (white guy) never misses a meeting while Dr. Hill (black guy) misses them all the time. Yet, they choose to take Mr. Black off. Someone needs to check into the bylaws on that one.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

You might be on to something here regarding racism jumping from one "Committee" to another. Considering the names I read......it's completely obvious.

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B4it 1 year, 8 months ago

In my opinion, I think the County Commissioners (Gaines and Hayes and Stone) have been extremely insulting toward the Library Board relative to the closing of the two low-utlilization libraries. The County Commissioners can not even manage their own budgets, so why do they now think they can second guess the Library Board's responsible decision to take action to meet their budget. If the County Commissioners were responsible people, they should be praising the Library Board for making the much needed tough decisions.

The State cut back some funding to the local library districts. The DoCo Library Board took action. Now a few of the County Commissioners had the nerve to raise the possibilities of reopening these 2 seldom used libraries. What an insult! If this county is ever going to prosper, we have to vote these clowns out of their positions to send a message that enough is enough.

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B4it 1 year, 8 months ago

District 3 Commissioner Muarlean Edwards said, "By not having libraries to serve the population that needs them most, we're increasing the chances that they'll end up as part of the jail population."

This also is insulting to those communities where the libraries were closed. The residents should be outraged at the above comment. It insinuates the residents are boarder line criminals and if it were not for having a library, they would be committing crimes. When are the people going to see through what these commissioners are really saying? Thank goodness Edwards is on her way out at the end of this year.

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RedEric 1 year, 8 months ago

Can John Hayes pass the reading test? Maybe he will need a tutor like ole 34.

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howsad 1 year, 8 months ago

How Sad--- How about if Mr Hayes' first action as a Library Board member be to seperate library visitors into two catagories: those interested in books/research/learning and those interested in the county supplemented internet cafe. If he would visit each branch he would see that the majority of the visitors are simply checking emails and surfing the net. Next thing will be to give the entitlement society free laptops and internet access in addition to their Obama phones.

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