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County Council considers $200,000 for IL library

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By Jenny Hartley

Lancaster County Library Director Richard Band told County Council on Monday night that he was thankful the Del Webb Library at Indian Land was being considered for funding in an upcoming bond referendum.

The library, which has been funded mostly by Pulte Homes' Del Webb, the developer of Sun City Carolina Lakes, and business and individual donations, needs another $200,000 to have a decent book collection on opening day. The library is slated to open at the end of the year or January 2009.

But the library needs to buy books earlier than November, when the bond referendum is scheduled.

"If the referendum passes, we'll be in great shape," Band said.

But there's the issue of the referendum not passing, he said.

"If you can find $100,000 to commit to us, we can make it work," Band said. The library would open with half of the books than library officials originally hoped.

A $200,000 grant from the S.C. Budget and Control Board's Competitive Community Grants program didn't pan out. Local library officials received news that the Del Webb Library didn't make the cut on June 27.

The S.C. Budget and Control Board's Competitive Community Grants Committee awarded about $12 million worth of grants to projects around the state, including funding for Kershaw's new town hall.

The library has raised about $423,000 for the new library itself, through its Legacy of Literacy campaign. Two fall festivals, sponsored by Pulte Homes, the Sun City Carolina Lakes Homeowners Association, Indian Land Rotary Club and Carolina Gateway, have also raised about $35,000 for the library. Another fall festival is scheduled for Oct. 4.

Some of the money raised has already been spent on the building itself, which will cost $1.7 million to build, about $200,000 more than was originally given to the project, Band said.

Band is also waiting to hear whether the new library will get a $50,000 grant from the state library to buy computers. The library's requests for funding have been turned down by the Springs Close Foundation and Duke Energy.

Council member Bryan Vaughn said he would like to see County Council fund the $200,000.

He credited Councilmen Rudy Carter, Jack Estridge and Fred Thomas for negotiating with Del Webb, which donated 2 acres and $1.5 million toward construction of the library, now under construction in the commercial district of Sun City.

Band and the Lancaster County Library board have also done well in raising private money for the library, Vaughn said.

But council now needs to make a commitment to the library to make sure it opens on time and is fully stocked, Vaughn said. The county can make that commitment, he said, thanks to the "healthy" reserve fund the county has from donations made by developers who have built homes mostly in the Panhandle over the past several years, he added.

"I agree with Mr. Vaughn 100 percent," Councilman Larry Honeycutt said. "I think council should do whatever's necessary to fund the library."

Council unanimously voted to take action on the library funding at its July 28 meeting.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or (803) 283-1151