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Craft steps down from Library Board

Southside Branch Library at 2114 Habersham Road is one of two Dougherty County libraries which closed due to budget funding cuts.

Southside Branch Library at 2114 Habersham Road is one of two Dougherty County libraries which closed due to budget funding cuts.

ALBANY, Ga. — Guy Craft, whose 50 years of library experience made him a natural fit as chairman of the Dougherty County Library Board of Trustees, stepped down from that position Tuesday citing the stress brought on by recent controversy swirling around the library system.

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Guy Craft

In his resignation letter to Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard, Craft wrote: "This letter comes to you as my resignation from the (position of) Chairman of the Board of the Dougherty County Public Library System and the Board itself. It is with the deepest regret that I submit this letter, and it has been my pleasure to serve this community on the Library Board. I wish the best for the library and the community. This resignation is effective immediately."

Craft had served as chairman of the Library Board for the past three years and had been a board member for the last four. Before retiring, he worked 20 years in the library at Albany State University, seven with Atlanta's six-college University Center, two as dean of learning resources at Chicago State University and four as interim vice president at Savannah State College.

The 83-year-old said the public should know he's not running from a fight with the County Commission.

"First of all, I only have good feelings about my time on the Library Board," he said. "It was a high honor for me to serve on the board and a higher honor to serve as chairman. But I have some health concerns and thought it best to step down while I'm still relatively healthy.

"There's been so much stress surrounding the county's library system since (the board) decided to close two branches (Southside and Westtown), and my wife convinced me I don't need that kind of stress. (Late Library Director) Ashley's (Moore) sudden death (at age 36 of an apparent heart attack) devastated me, and with my own health concerns the stress just was not bearable."

Sinyard, who is out of the county on business, told The Herald Tuesday evening Craft had served the community well.

"Dr. Craft has been an incredible community volunteer," Sinyard said after being notified of Craft's resignation. "We've been blessed that he served on the Board of Trustees of the library. He's a good man, and we're going to miss his service."

Craft said County Commissioner John Hayes' "attack on me" during a commission meeting after the board announced plans to close two "underperforming" library branches in mostly black neighborhoods and Commissioner Gloria Gaines' grilling of interim Library Director Mary Antoine Monday helped hasten his decision to resign. He also denounced the commission's decision to place Hayes on the Library Board, ousting long-time member Gene Black.

He responded Tuesday to the commissioners' public comments and to an article in a newspaper popular in the black community that "vilified me."

"(Because of the comments) there were people calling Ashley's house at 2 in the morning calling her a bigot and a racist," Craft said of the late director, who died Sept. 17. "I told her to tell those people to call me, and a few of them did, but I was able to take it a little better than she did.

"We made our decision (on the closures) based solely on the numbers. We did what we had to do. We tried everything: cutting hours, cutting people. But when we crunched the numbers, it was close the two library branches or sometime this spring our system would be completely out of money."

Craft said commissioners should have been aware of the money crunch facing the library system.

"They've cut almost a million dollars from the system since 2009, and the state cut another 3 percent in funding this year," he said. "Meanwhile, everything has gone up: the acquisition of new data and materials, insurance, retirement. Frankly, we were lucky to keep three branches open.

"If the commission had all these concerns (about branches closing), why didn't they give us enough funding to keep them open?"

Craft also said the board has been criticized for using $5 million in special sales tax funds to renovate the downtown Central Library branch rather than spend some of the funds to keep the other branches open.

"We can't do that," he said. "State law allows us to use SPLOST funds only for the projects that were approved by voters."

Craft said he's stepping completely away from the library system, but a part of his heart will remain.

"I really don't plan to do anything else with the library system," he said. "But if they need my consultation, they know they can call on me, free of charge."

Comments

waltspecht 1 year, 8 months ago

If the Commision wants to run the Board, why have a Board at all. Afterall they seem to be the all knowing ones, with the Library experience to back them up. Why not just open them as internet cafes, for that is what they really were. The origional decision was sound, with good logic. Then Politics raised it's head and dam the expense, we want them open.

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broke 1 year, 8 months ago

They were really used as a babysitting service.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 8 months ago

That too. Especially the Northwest branch when it was across from Sherwood Elementary, Also a restaurant and a homeless hang out.

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Cartman 1 year, 8 months ago

Gene Black and Guy Craft out. John Hayes in.

Hold onto your wallets gentlemen.

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broke 1 year, 8 months ago

Guess the Commissioners got what they wanted. So sad. Dr. Guy Craft was one of the few people that really cared about the library.

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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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whattheheck 1 year, 8 months ago

When two under performing library branches cannot be closed because of race and a board member is not reappointed because of race, and a county commissioner who thinks property tax exists to support poverty is put on the library board, there is no hope for Albany and its tax payers. Sorry folks, the game is over and its lights out for those not of color.

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bigbob 1 year, 8 months ago

You just figure that out, this city has been dead for awhile just not smart enough to lay down. I feel sorry for the people with property in Albany for its worth nothing. Cut your loses and get out while you can.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 8 months ago

I live in Lee County and am now using it instead of Albany, It is wonderful and I may never go again to the library in Doughterty Co. I understand that they genealogy room has moved to the Thronateeska Center, so no need to ever go back to that mad house downtown. In the genealogy room many years ago a commissioners wife demanded to use the copy machine for free because the library one was out of order. The genealogy one was purchased by books they sell and other dues. She was so full of herself, "Do yo know who I am" Duh, no and do not care. You are still going to pay 15 cents per copy. If you are a politicans wife that does not ever exempt you for paying anywhere if you use the services of the taxpayers.

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Tonto 1 year, 8 months ago

While it is a perhaps mortal wound for the comission, the truely terrible consequense here is to see an individual who has served the people, with only their welfare in mind for so many years, be turned out like a pariah...for not bending to situational ethics and imaginary slights.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

AuntieDee is hopefully out rallying the Black Community to help provide the much needed funding. John Hayes can hold the bag of money in his sleigh and bring it all in to the storehouse. Merry Christmas!

Want to see what TRUE RACIST HATRED looks like in 2012? Read this article about what people did to Craft and Ashley Moore.

What this entire country needs is to be run by people like Mr. Craft who take their job and responsibilities and fiscal boundaries seriously and take proper action. However, people will not tolerate a Black man who does the right thing when the right thing goes against the grain.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 8 months ago

Thank you Mr. Craft for your service to All of Albany. Sadly your treatment by part of Albany is proof many in Albany only care about themselves and not the entire community...Give me mine no matter what it cost you.

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DaneGlesak 1 year, 8 months ago

Now Sister_Ruby! This is Albany Ga and the year 2012...there is no racial thing going on in this town and for SURE not in the city or county government. We are all the same color, brothers and sisters who at all times come to each others aid when things bring us down. I'm surprised at you! It's the year 2012 for goodness sakes.

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B4it 1 year, 8 months ago

Dane, you need to take those blinding sun glasses off so that you have clearer vision to see the racism from some of the commissioners, and from some of the so called black ministers. There are racist attitudes that are not only extremely visible, but have also been recently made public by City Commissioner Tommie Postell.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

I think Dane is also using sarcasm?

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B4it 1 year, 8 months ago

Sorry Sis, but I did not take those kind of comments from Dane as sarcasm. These denials of any rascism and "racism in your face" kind of responses are getting serious, and I am fed up with it. If it was sarcasm, it wasn't funny to me.

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waitforit 1 year, 8 months ago

Uummm B4it....Dane was being sarcastic.

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B4it 1 year, 8 months ago

wait... Thanks for the clarification. See above Reply to Sister.

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waitforit 1 year, 8 months ago

@B4it....Sister speaks "pig".....didn't know if you understood her comment lol

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

It must have been people like you that called Ms. Moore at 2 am to spout racist hatred.

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waitforit 1 year, 8 months ago

Oink! Oink! There it goes again B4it. I couldn't translate that one though

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