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October 26, 2016
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Library competes for more county funding

McGoey, Hauser and Edsall Consulting Engineers’ architectural renderings for the new addition to the Pike County Courthouse were introduced at the Pike Commissioners September 4 meeting.
Contributed photo

Looking for a change in the way budget money is divided, a spokesman for the Hawley Library came before the Pike County Commissioners last Wednesday asking for a bigger piece of the county’s library funding.

Tom Kennedy said many western Pike residents regularly patronize the Hawley Library, although it is located “a quarter mile over (the border) in the county known as Wayne.”

He said that the closure of the Greeley (Lackawaxen) branch of the Pike County Public Library has left residents in Lackawaxen, Palmyra (Pike) and Blooming Grove townships without library access.

Noting difficult economic times, “The idea that Pike County money should serve all (its residents) is fair. Two thousand dollars isn’t fair,” he said.

Anthony Waldron, who is director of the Hawley Library and the Wayne County Library Alliance, said the Newfoundland Library in Wayne County also serves numerous Pike residents from Greene Township. Sixty percent of its users are from Greene while 55% of Hawley users are Pike residents, he said.

Joined by representatives of its seven libraries, Molly Rodgers, executive director of the Wayne County Library Alliance, broke the bad news of a $47,000 annual deficit to the Wayne County Commissioners in early July. Rodgers said all the libraries are running deficits and cannot continue to do so.

The Pike commissioners traditionally have appropriated the bulk of library funding, $150,000 to $200,000 derived from state and county money, to the Pike County Public Library (PCPL), which is based in Milford; a smaller donation annually goes to Hawley.

Kennedy said $176,000 is given and Hawley “would be happy with 36% of that, $50,000 more or less.”

PCLP executive director Ellen Schaffner and trustee Elspeth Goodin listened but did not comment during the Hawley presentation. After the meeting Schaffner said “those who chose not to (use the Hawley Library) should not have to pay for the choices of those who did.”

She said all libraries are facing decreased funding. “We’re down $100,000 in state and local cuts.”

Goodin provided a handout quoting PA library law, referencing a statewide library card program which enables any state resident possessing any state-funded library’s card to use any other state-funded library.

Goodin wrote that diversion of Pike funds to other counties would also

reduce Pike’s Local Financial Effort (LFE), which would reduce state aid accordingly. “If LFE falls below a certain amount, the library could receive no state funding at all.”

As their colleagues in Wayne County did when solicited in July, the Pike Commissioners listened but made no response to the Hawley funding request.

Wayne-Pike Adult Literacy

in money trouble

Representatives of the Wayne-Pike Adult Literacy Program (WPALP) reported another inter-county funding crisis. Executive director Jacci West and board president Annette Petry said the program’s survival in 2014 is “questionable if we do not receive significant funding from outside sources.”

Petry said that the state no longer funds smaller programs like WPALP. The counties have no large corporate donors and foundations, and other sponsors outside the area have been unresponsive to requests to help. Numerous in-house fundraisers have brought in $23,000 in 2012-13, but the remainder of the $70,000 budget pays three part-time employees.

One of them is tutor coordinator Madeline Coppola, who, finding no appropriate existing curriculum, recently created a 66-page workbook and a nine-page teacher guide for a program she created for women at the Pike County Correctional Facility.

Separately, 44 adults currently work with WPALP volunteer tutors. Last year volunteers tutored 125 adults, and 28 volunteers donated 2,100 hours.

“We don’t want to give up,” West said.

Courthouse addition

The commissioners last week introduced renderings for the county’s long-awaited 30,000-square-foot addition to the Pike County Courthouse. The project, which will include renovations to the existing landmark building, is now before the Milford Borough Architectural Review Board (ARB), where it has been received “with accolades,” Commissioner Matt Osterberg reported.

Osterberg, who was borough president during a long and controversial ARB approval process for various failed designs for the new PCLP building in Milford, said he was “very pleased [the design] was received so well.”

It should have been, he said. “We knew it met the ordinance and guidelines. The library didn’t meet either,” he said.