There isn't a Columbia County public official or reporter who hasn't at least once heard the plea from former Grovetown City Council member Rosa Lee Owens:
She wants a library. In Grovetown. We get it.
Owens spoke to Columbia County commissioners Tuesday evening, persistently and politely again asking the county to build a library inside the city.
"I have a passion for a library/media center in the city of Grovetown," Owens told the commissioners.
I was sitting behind her as she spoke, so unlike those forcibly stoic politicians I was free to chuckle at her entirely unintended slight when Owens implored them, "Think of how many illiterate people there are in the city of Grovetown."
In any event, after several years of her quest, Owens still hasn't gotten her library despite the fact that, as she often points out, Harlem already has one. The implication is that Grovetown should have one, too.
But here's where history can be an important guide.
That library in Harlem got its start in 1974, when Mr. and Mrs. Frank Walton donated their home to the city with the stipulation that it be used to house a library.
The home sat vacant for the rest of the decade. The Harlem Women's Club took it on as a project, raising money and gathering support for converting the building to a library. The Harlem City Council agreed to help.
Then, and only then, did the Columbia County Commission get on board, pledging $20,000 and the assistance of county workers. After several months of renovation, the new Harlem Library - the county's first - opened in October 1981.
Not long after, and this time on donated land, Columbia County opened the Gibbs Memorial Library in Evans. A decade later, the Euchee Creek Library opened.
Its location was strategic: Euchee Creek was supposed to split the difference between Grovetown and Harlem. While some disagree, my understanding has always been that once Euchee Creek opened, the county would pull out of the Harlem library.
Obviously, that didn't happen. For all the perpetual complaints about areas south of Interstate 20 getting less than the rest of the county, there are now two libraries south of I-20 and just one in the northern portion.
Neither of those two libraries are inside the Grovetown city limits, and that's the basis of Owens' complaint. But Owens might have inadvertently provided a simple solution.
When she began her talk Tuesday, she reminded commissioners of the vast amount of hotel-motel tax generated by all the new inns in "Grovetown." However, County Commission Chairman Ron Cross politely pointed out that the I-20/Belair Road hotels are in the Grovetown zip code, not in the Grovetown city limits.
What he didn't point out is that the Euchee Creek Library also is in the Grovetown zip. If Owens is ready to claim those hotels, she should likewise embrace Euchee Creek.
Maybe the county should just rename it the Grovetown Library. Problem solved?
In any event, it seems the proper path to getting a library inside the Grovetown limits, and not just inside the zip code, is to follow the Harlem model: Get someone in the city to donate a site. Rally a citizens group to support it, and get a commitment from Grovetown City Council.
I'm pretty sure the county would be more willing to climb on board once those horses are in front of the cart.
A grand donation
Speaking of donations, God bless Stella Grandin.
As noted Wednesday in The News-Times, Brandon Wilde is quietly celebrating her gift of $1 million to the retirement community.
Brandon Wilde will use the money to create a facility for seniors with Alzheimer's and dementia.
Suitably modest, Grandin wanted no fanfare for the donation, which Brandon Wilde announced Oct. 15. But she certainly deserves it.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.) follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.