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Westtown Library branch set to re-open

The Dougherty County library branch was one of two that were closed for financial reasons

Wanda Brown, branch librarian for Westtown Library, shows some of the books that have been moved into the facility. The library is set to reopen Monday afternoon. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Wanda Brown, branch librarian for Westtown Library, shows some of the books that have been moved into the facility. The library is set to reopen Monday afternoon. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

ALBANY — A Dougherty County Library branch, closed for more than a year due to financial concerns, will re-open Monday afternoon, according to officials with the Dougherty Library System.

County Library Director Pauline Abidde told the Dougherty County Comission at its business meeting Monday morning that the Westtown Library branch, one of two closed by the county’s Library Board as an emergency financial measure, will open Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. Abidde said an open house will be held at 10 a.m. Friday.

“I have exciting news,” Abidde told the commission. “I’m proud to announce that the Westtown Library will be open to the public starting Monday.”

Librarian Wanda Brown, hired by the Library System in December, said after Monday’s commission meeting that the Westtown branch will be open 16 hours a week — 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays and 10 a.m. -2 p.m. Saturdays. Brown, who will split time between Westtown and the Central Library downtown once its renovations are complete, said two part-time staff members will work with her at Westtown.

“There’s been a lot of interest in the community, a lot of people are stopping by to find out when we’ll re-open,” said Brown, who worked previously at Albany State University.

A divided commission voted 4-3 in June 2013 to include funding for the branch in the county’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the commission voted to approve a change order that will extend ongoing storm drainage improvements on Holly Drive another 700 feet at a cost of $57,458 and approved a policy for recognition of citizen volunteers who serve on county boards and committees.

“This is a progressive effort on the part of this committee,” commission Governmental Affairs Committee Chairwoman Gloria Gaines said. “Our goal is to make sure our community is well-served by these committees and to show committee members that we appreciate their efforts.”

After an extended discussion, the commission voted to approve Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful Director Judy Bowles’ recommendation that Shalonda Heard and Lew Culpepper be accepted as KADB board members to fill two vacant positions on the panel. Commissioners Jack Stone and John Hayes expressed concern that the recommendations came directly to the board from Bowles without having been advertised.

County Administrator Richard Crowdis said protocol for KADB appointments is for Bowles to make recommendations and the commission to approve or reject them. He noted that the lack of advance discussion on the nominees was because of the need to have members in place for an important meeting of the KADB board on Wednesday.

“I have no problem with Judy making recommendations, but if we allow every board to tell us who to appoint without advertising the positions, that’s going to leave a large portion of the community out of the process,” Stone said.

The commission approved Heard and Culpepper, but decided to address the protocol for member appointment at a future meeting.