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Garrison Library Board President Mavis Dickerson reads to children before the celebration begins.

Garrison residents wore hard hats and shared smiles, hugs, stories and a few tears as they celebrated the beginning of the building of the city's new library Wednesday evening.

The official ground-breaking comes five days before excavation crews begin digging and nearly three years after the July 11, 2011 storm that destroyed the historic brick library in Garrison's downtown area.

The new building will face west from the parking lot of the former Old Creamery Theatre, just north of the Old Creamery Nature Trail. Leaders expect the first phase of the project, to be completed by late summer or early fall.

"Thank you for believing in this," Library Board President Mavis Dickerson told the crowd. She had been reading books to a few children as the audience gathered at the building site.

Many Garrison homes and the Emergency Services Building were damaged -- or flattened-- by the storm, and residents had to deal with those essential buildings.

But Dickerson and Christy Leckband and others on the library board kept working, hoping and looking for donations and other funding. Finally, by April 1, they had collected a total of $300,000.

But that was $60,000 too little. So Leckband share what Garrison residents now call "Renee's Story," which featured a 10-year-old girl's perspective.

That story, published on Vinton Today and other places, was a key reason for the fund-raising success.

The $360,000 for the building's shell comes from insurance funds as well as grants and donations. Dickerson said the total cost of the project is around $600,000. Finishing the inside and building a community room will cost around $240,000 more.

Fund-raising efforts will continue. But for now, the citizens of Garrison can pause to celebrate an accomplishment that once seemed improbable. No city funds, bonds or other tax monies were available.

"The hardest part of this project was getting the city council to believe we could raise the money," said Dickerson.

Funding came from several sources: $20,000 from the Guernsey Foundation, $60,000 from the Roy J. Carver Foundation, $50,000 from the Mansfield Foundation and $18,000 from Cargill were among the largest donations.

Guernsey Foundation Executive Director Soo Greiman joined the Garrison community for the ground breaking.

"We give where we live because we like knowing where it's going," Greiman explained, using the unofficial motto of the foundation.

Garrison Mayor Al Lindsey thanked the libary board members for their effort.

After library board members and Renee Gram, whose story inspired many donations, began the ground-breaking with shovels, Doug Kearns used a backhoe to turn a larger shovelful of dirt, as Garrison residents took photos --and applauded.

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Comments (2)

Excellent!! A new initiative, and for, Garrison! I hope the support stays strong and steady.
By: Chrystal Young on May 15th 2:38pm
I want to thank the wonderful library ladies for all their efforts. Because of them my kids will have a library to go to in our own town! Although we have computers and internet in our home, I am sure there are kids in town that do not and the library is the only computer they have access to after school. I'm not sure that Thank You is enough for these great women! They have given this community something wonderful and deserve many many thanks.
By: Amanda (Schellhase) Erickson on May 15th 6:38pm

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