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Residents want libraries to stay open

A group speaking Thursday threatened to mount a campaign against T-SPLOST if their demands weren't met.

Westtown Branch Library patron Devon Walker, center, speaks out against the recent library closings as her 8-year-old daughter, Mikayla, right, holds an accelerated reading program trophy during Thursday’s protest rally outside the government center on Pine Avenue.

Westtown Branch Library patron Devon Walker, center, speaks out against the recent library closings as her 8-year-old daughter, Mikayla, right, holds an accelerated reading program trophy during Thursday’s protest rally outside the government center on Pine Avenue.

— A group of concerned citizens called on members of the Library Board Thursday to cease efforts to close two Dougherty County facilities and come to the table to find ways to save the two doomed libraries.

Without an 11th-hour reprieve, Southside Library at 2114 Habersham Road and Westtown Library at 2124 Waddell Ave., are set to be closed Sunday. Members of the Library Board voted to shutter the facilities in an effort to cut costs.

The group, which assembled in front of the government center Thursday afternoon, challenged board members to find ways to save the two locations.

The Rev. Eddie Bankston, head of the group known as People, Clergy, Community Involvement (PCCI), said that officials are already in the process of moving books and equipment from the libraries — an act that should cease immediately.

“The PCCI is asking and really and truly demanding that, as we visited those libraries today, we noticed that they were removing books and other materials, and we’re asking that that be immediately stopped and we request and demand a meeting with the Library board,” Bankston said.

Bankston said that local school students and non-traditional students who are working on course work online depend on Internet access that the libraries provide. He also questioned the motives of the board to strip educational facilities from portions of the communities around Albany that he said “need them the most.”

On June 13, the board voted to close the two libraries and lay off six staff members to deal with a $121,000 budget gap. In addition to the closures, the board voted to increase the fines for overdue books.

“We also believe that there is a hidden agenda,” Bankston said. “Because there is no way that, in a city that is listed as one of the poorest in the nation, that they would take away educational facilities from those who need them the most.”

Should the library board fail to act, Bankston offered a clear ultimatum.

“If our demands are not met, we will plan and mount a campaign against the T-SPLOST that they are asking people in this area to vote for,” Bankston said. “No longer will we continue to pay our (sales) tax dollars and they take these facilities from us.”

The T-SPLOST is a one-percent sales tax initiative pushed by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the state government to fund regional transportation projects. In Southwest Georgia, the measure is expected to generate $530 million in revenues for local roads and bridges over a 10-year period.

Devon Walker, a breast cancer survivor and patron at Westtown, said that the library is a safe haven for her daughter, who she said won an award from the Dougherty County School System for reading 165 books, and pleaded that the library board consider other alternatives.

“After my cancer, we had to cut off our Internet service and the library was the only option my daughter had to complete her school projects and reports,” Walker said. “I feel like not having that library open would be a detriment to this community and would hurt my daughter’s ability to do her work.”

Walker urged the board that, if the library had to be closed, consider it a temporary closure.

Keata Allen, a concerned citizen, said that he was so appalled by the closing of the two facilities that he would seek to bring it to the attention of federal authorities.

“When you make an announcement such as this, one so diabolical, it certainly infers that the government of the United States is literally just about fallen to pieces,” Allen said. “We will stand unflinchingly for the maintaining and operating of these libraries.”

Rosalyn Coney, who has addressed the Dougherty County Commission seeking some form of involvement from that body, reiterated her call for outside involvement to help bridge any financial gap between keeping the libraries open or having them close.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we can either pay for this now, or pay much more for it later,” Coney said, referring to the concept that if you don’t spend money educating children then you’ll spend more money jailing or supporting them when they grow up.

Comments

Progressive 1 year, 9 months ago

This Bankston group is talking to the wrong decision makers. They should be talking with the State reps who are also making cost reduction decisions to county libraries based on the availability of TAX dollars. If the money is not available, funding is cut = Econ 101. These same protesters should consider what they would do if they hired someone to cut their grass, and then the grass cutter decided to start charging more for their services. Then a few weeks later, the grass cutter started charging another 2 mills, I mean more fees. Would these same protesters continue with the same service provider, or would they fire them and find someone else who could do the work at a lower cost. Same principle. Services are costing more, and decisions need to be made to cut back when TAX dollars are not available. We have some commissioners who do not think this way. They can not seem to find ways to cut costs, only ways to raise our taxes. So to keep low usage facilities open, either your TAXES continue to go up, or expenses need to be cut. Also keep in mind there are 3 libraries still open, and all 5 were located within a 7 mile radius of each other. Another option would be for this group to contribute several hundred thousand dollars of their own money to keep the facilities open. Let's see just how important these libraries are if they have to pay for them themselves, instead of asking others to pony up the money.

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dingleberry 1 year, 9 months ago

I like the "put up your money" comment. When we pony, they ride!

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Amazed2 1 year, 9 months ago

Simple just stop funding the Tommy's Fish Aquarium downtown and stop handing out $50,000 checks to the Civil Rights Museum and you might be able to afford a library. Unfortunately, the libraries I have visited in Albany in the last year or so have become more like Community Centers. Noise is so bad I cannot even read. Screaming children and mothers paying no attention, cell phone conversations with people hollering into the phone, loud conversations like they sitting at the kitchen table with family. Close them all I quit going to sit and read anyway.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 9 months ago

Let’s review:

When Devon Walker’s expenses exceeded her household income she cut off a service she could replace by the inconvenience of sending her Daughter to another location. But now she is outraged that other people want to cut cost just as she did, because their cost cutting would inconvenience her family and require they go to another location again. So by her mindset it is right to demand other people spend money to replace a convenience she cut to save herself money!!!!!! Free money when it comes from others, No money to spend when it is yours? Do we see a repeating pattern here?

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 9 months ago

Hit the nail on the head, Tax.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 9 months ago

The libraries have been free baby sitters. I know! The NW library across from Sherwood Elementary had them afternoons everyday. This should have been stopped!!! Who are these people to demand services. Pony up in taxes or cut other places. The museum is one. They would have lots of folks if they offered free computer usage. The library could open an internet cafe and have computers for free and they library doors could close. The downtown library is going to close for a very long time to get remodeled. Where is the money coming from for that?

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chinaberry25 1 year, 9 months ago

BTW, all of the school libraries have a internet service for free to students. Teachers will allow library time for special projects. That is just a cop out. I had to ride my bicycle downtown when I was a child to visit the library. Yes, the old one. It was hot and my mother worked. It was the only one, but I went once a week year round. No one cared if we had one closer where folks lived. If the library took out the computer, they could close the doors. Also the branch libraries close at 6:00 everyday, so the free baby sitter is my guess.

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Progressive 1 year, 9 months ago

I think some people are starting to see through these ridiculous people always threatening and screaming for a "Free Service" as long as someone else is paying for it. Read the article closely. This has nothing to do with keeping the libraries open. This is all about having access to free Internet services. There are 3 other libraries to use. Use them, and stop this unjustified ranting.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 9 months ago

FlunkyMonkey great demand....now where is your money....put YOUR money where your Mouth is or SHUT UP!!

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Jacob 1 year, 9 months ago

Actually, I love the idea of an anti-tax campaign. For that reason alone, I hope they keep the libraries closed.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 9 months ago

I totally agree with you. Keep the libraries closed so they will vote down T-SPLOST. These people probably have no clue as to what the "T" means. LOL I love it!!

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rightasrain 1 year, 9 months ago

Close the libraries...drop a dime you get from my tax money and take the bus to a library that's open and join the rest of the illiterate, rude, welfare bunch.

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durbin 1 year, 9 months ago

To attract businesses and for a community to thrive, it must have good schools, parks, and libraries. But it also needs funding. It is counterproductive to campaign against SPLOST; rather a campaign is needed to RAISE funds for the libraries. Who will do it and how?

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whattheheck 1 year, 9 months ago

Close the libraries as scheduled but don't forget to board up the windows and doors and remove the a/c units. I hope the PCCI will take a non-support position on the T-SPLOST cause I want to put another nail or two in the coffin lid to keep it down.

I always enjoy a good "demand" Eddie, so keep on keeping on until perhaps some of the politicians will get a belly full like some of the taxpayers already have.

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fatdaddygamer 1 year, 9 months ago

you want it left open, but you don,t want to help fund it how nice is that?

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Jacob 1 year, 9 months ago

I"’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we can either pay for this now, or pay much more for it later,” Coney said, referring to the concept that if you don’t spend money educating children then you’ll spend more money jailing or supporting them when they grow up."

these libraries have been open for decades, yet our jail is packed to capacity and a full one fourth our adult population is on probation or parole. Your statement sounds nice, Ms. Coney, but you have no point. Your community is broken beyond repair. Keeping the internet babysitting service open isn't going to save it.

.

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DoctorDorite 1 year, 9 months ago

Y'all just come on over to Lee Co. we will accept your library cards here, we got a total of 4 libraries and our population is 25% of Doughtery Co.'s we really need some clients badly. You can even have your conferences here too ! Our commisioners were way ahead of the game planning this for your needs.

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bigbob 1 year, 9 months ago

Ya the Lee Cty commisioners already fund a golf course for Albany why not a library.

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bubbavet 1 year, 9 months ago

"Concerned Citizens" my A _ _ . FREELOADERS is more like it.

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gsujd 1 year, 9 months ago

I can understand people wanting lower taxes, but it is very shortsighted. Closing libraries leads directly to increased expenses in other areas, whether it is jail, drug abuse counseling, etc.

This reminds me of the people who didn't want to take the federal funds to build the transit center. Now it will be built with local funds if it is built at all. Meanwhile, the federal funds that would have built it will go somewhere else where the people are using their heads for something besides a hat rack.

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Progressive 1 year, 9 months ago

gsujd - You and others in this community who think like you are part of the problem. You are not looking for solutions, only handouts. So what you are also saying is the people who visit these libraries are borderline criminals, and without these facilities they will be in our jails. This is shallow thinking. To make the point even clearer, why don't you ask the Bankston clergy group to provide free Internet services at their churches? If the answer is the money is not available, now you can start to be enlightened in the Econ 101 library changes.

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gsujd 1 year, 9 months ago

Actually I haven't lived there since 1990. Back then, it seemed that the government thought the way you guys are now, but the citizens recognized that the way to make the city more appealing to outside investment was to invest in infrastructure. The number of libraries in the county was always a point of pride, along with the civic center. Now it seems that everybody wants to make taxes as low as possible and close down all community facilities. This is going to make Albany/Dougherty County resemble a third world country as far as the appeal to anybody considering a move there.

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Progressive 1 year, 9 months ago

Investing in infrastructure is admirable and worthy when funds are available. Wasting tax payer money on low useage facilities is foolish. Would you continue to borrow money to invest in your home, even when the value is already way above what you will ever get in return? Or do you use constraints in your budgeting and spending and make decisions on where you will spend your money? Why is this concept so hard for you and others to understand? Unless it is a mind set that it is OK to spend as long as someone else pays for it.

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Cartman 1 year, 9 months ago

I hope they do mount a campaign against T-SPLOST. The more help we get - the better.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 9 months ago

Let them protest the T-SPLOST. This article gave me a chuckle.

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Exbanian 1 year, 9 months ago

The communities that "need these libaries (sic) the most" should have used them when they had them. When I worked for DCPL, these were low traffic branches, used for videos and internet. I can't imagine that's changed. This is a great example of the Albany mindset I'm glad to have left behind.

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billybob 1 year, 9 months ago

If their demands are not met? Who are these people? Hamas?

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Cartman 1 year, 9 months ago

Reverend Bankston. Let's be honest. I believe that you are just running your mouth. Your threats are as empty as the library building. You haven't got the guts to organize any sizeable campaign against T-SPLOST! You wouldn't dare to risk making the Chamber of Commerce and your local legislators angry. So please! Stop it with those empty threats.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 9 months ago

gsujd I will give you a little slack since you don’t live here and are not getting the whole story.

“This reminds me of the people who didn't want to take the federal funds to build the transit center. Now it will be built with local funds if it is built at all. Meanwhile, the federal funds that would have built it will go somewhere else where the people are using their heads for something besides a hat rack.”

  1. NO ONE is trying to refuse the Fed funds.
  2. There is a group here trying to bully the location to where THEY decided and IF we don’t build it on their location they are falsely claiming they will just let the Fed funds disappear along with claims if we don’t play by their rules it is going to cost the local taxpayers to build it.
  3. There are other and better locations that the fed funds can be used on and many of us are using our heads to protect the local taxpayers and not bow to the bullies.

Notice a pattern..... Bullies making demands but not willing to put their Money where their MOUTH is!!!!

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Exbanian 1 year, 9 months ago

I played this for someone not from Sowega, and had to translate. Yes, they are speaking English-ish.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 9 months ago

Exb hopefully you did not punish them and make them listen to all 19 mins. Sadly as I am sure you noticed, they pointed out that they have caught on the taxpaying folk's "Hidden Agenda" and will be mounted a retaliation against us if we do not yield to their DEMANDS for MORE of the money WE Worked for.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

Were the children daddies in attendance at the protest?

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 9 months ago

Back off, save the public libraries.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 9 months ago

BVR great demand ....... Easy for you to call for wasting other people's money but your wallet is Not as BIG as your MOUTH. ....where is your money?....put YOUR money where Your Mouth is or SHUT UP!!......Try a novel idea..... YOU "Want it" then YOU "WORK for it"

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rofecoxib22 1 year, 9 months ago

To Sister Ruby...no the daddy was at work where you should have been... yes his taxes are paying for a dummy like you to make a comment freely behind the guise of the internet that you are using in your mother's backroom because you have too much time on your hand and make comments like these thus you are probably drawing unemployment that his tax dollars are paying for right now as we speak....To Abytaxpayer apparently you don't know how the system works so let me educate you since you have the intelligence...no...intelligence is giving you too much credit...let me rephrase that...since you have the reactionary instincts (more like it....thats what animals like you without reasoning abilities do react without thinking)....:)..I digress....now back to your education... you see dummy the way it works since Devins' taxes have been paying for the police, firefighters, library services, etc. for years in Albany she has a right to complain...you know since some of her dollars are still going to the upkeep of Albany and a service that she has been paying for and still is.... is being cut off ...you know that right that Americans have where if we don't like something we can organize and voice our opinion on the matter... its called freedom of speech...just in case you didn't know.... yeah i know you don't..who are we kidding right..lol... yeah she has a right to it... and on top of that i am pretty sure as long as you along with Sister Ruby can hide behind the internet that chances are you will never ever have the courage to get out front and voice your opinion on a matter because like i said earlier to be human is to reason and to reason is to have intelligence which i said before you do not have...have a nice day

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

robocop: you tell a good joke. Go up to Lakewood to Tyler Perry Studios and he probably got a job for you. Here's hoping you have a great career as a funny man in the movies. Only you got to give 10% of your earnings to the Obama Re-Anointing Campaign. But you probably OK with that too.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 9 months ago

rofecoxib22 thanks for the long long long letture.

So let me get this right:

You say I am wrong and not too smart because I was pointing out the FACT:

Because of a tight budget Ms. Walker saw the need to make some serious but inconvenient cutbacks for her family to insure their financial security but that she and the others are making demands that the rest of us TAXPAYERS not be as financially responsible as she was and should bow to their DEMANDS because once again it will be inconvenient for her family. So it is ok for her to be financially responsible with her personal money but the rest of us should not demand the same financially responsibility with the tax dollars paid by her and others in Albany? So just where do you draw the line or do you believe in the “Hidden Agenda” too?

Since youns bes the one with the edumacation howes do this thing works.!? (Sorry best I can do with the education from the 19min tape above).....

Use the LIMITED money for the good of the most people or use it for the ones who makes their DEMANDS the loudest?

You feel so strongly! Get off your soapbox and pass the offering plate around and let’s see just how strong your followers believe in your desire to waste money.

Put Up or Shut up!!

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 9 months ago

BTW rofecoxib22 say hi to Pear and I may only have a DCSS education but at least when you Google my name it does NOT appear on Adult Sites under the headings of Rate My >>>> and am I HOT or NOT and Fetish sites. Your Mom must be so Proud.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

BOOM SHAKKA LAKKA!!! Abytaxpayer you have taken these debates to a new level!

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SMHgain 1 year, 9 months ago

Unemployment tax is actually paid by employers based on their employee's wages. Who is to say that the people posting comments on this site are not expressing their right to freedom of speech??

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 9 months ago

I think I got this correct let me try.

The rules for the “Right to FREE Speech” according to LIBERALS.

  1. If you are Right then you are wrong.

  2. If you are Center then you are Right (see #1)

  3. If you are Left then you are always correct.

  4. If you still don’t agree you must have a hidden agenda against your fellowman.

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MisterEd 1 year, 9 months ago

BVR must use the internet at one of those libraries to get on here and flaunt his stupidity.

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fatdaddygamer 1 year, 9 months ago

if you people want to keep your day care centers open, WHY DON'T YOU FUND IT?

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Tarbaby 1 year, 9 months ago

Who is that in the yellow shirt she didn't introduce herself?

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