Funding for New Twiggs Library Still in Limbo After Contentious Commission Meeting

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Updated: Wed, 20 Nov 2013 12:41:09 EST

The Twiggs County Public Library may close its doors just two weeks after its grand opening due to lack of funding from the county's commission.

The issue of funding the library wasn't on the agenda at Tuesday night's meeting, but not long after the issue was brought up by commissioners, Chairman Ken Fowler asked the county's sheriff to remove Commissioner Tommie Lee Bryant from the room for causing a disturbance.

In the end, Bryant stayed at the meeting, and the issue stayed unresolved as commissioners could not come to an agreement to fund their portion of the library's operating budget.

"We do not have all the facts on the closing of the library, and until we get them, I think it would be inappropriate to comment," said Commissioner Donald Watson, who abstained from voting on two resolutions to fund the library.

It's still unclear what information about the library's budget the commission is looking for. Library administrators were not at the meeting, and when asked to comment on why he voted not to fund the library, Commissioner Bryant replied, "no speaka [sic] english."

"It's embarrassing that we have a library that we opened with a grand opening two weeks ago and now it appears to be closing because of lack of funding," said Gary Walker, a Jeffersonville preacher who spoke in support of the library.

The library's construction was paid for using more than $1.1 million dollars in state funds, and another $650,000 from an insurance settlement after the old facility was destroyed by fire.

The majority of the library's operating budget comes from the county's board of education, The City of Jeffersonville, and the county commission.

"I believe the county commissioners want the library to be open, and whatever kind of conflict that needs to be resolved, let's do this," Walker said.

The library's chairman Billy Humphries has previously said the commission stopped paying its portion of the budget back in September. He said the library will have to close its doors if it doesn't get the proper funding.

"We do not have all the facts and we have an obligation to get to the bottom of this thing before we take action," said Watson.

A woman who identified herself as an ex-oficio member of the library's board of directors says administrators were not at the meeting because they were out of town. She said Humphries was told by the commissioners office that the issue would not be discussed at the meeting.

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