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Construction begins on library roof
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Construction is finally starting next week on the Covington Branch Library’s leaky roof and could last for two months.

Two roofing companies will be paid $311,200 to replace shingles, gutters and downspouts, repairing decking and adding insulation, said Library Director Lace Keaton.

The Newton County Library System received a $100,000 state grant and $1,800 in local donations, but the rest of the money will come from the system’s operations budget, Keaton said.

Construction is expected to start Wednesday and run through May 30. Keaton doesn’t anticipate any closings or changes in hours, but said “there will be limited access to the building and parking during the entire project.”

The work will be performed by WL Roofing and Restoration of Covington and M&C Roofing of Monroe. Keaton said the library system received six bids and “went with the most affordable company that could meet the bid specifications of a 20 year warranty on both materials and labor.”

The Covington Branch Library is 17 years old and the roof has been a problem more than a year, as visible water damage was seen in 39 different locations throughout the building, with water actively leaking into the genealogy room at times when there’s rain.

Part of the roof is metal and part of it has asphalt shingles, and a report completed last year said most of the leaks appeared to occur where the roof changed from one material to another and in the roof valleys.

Originally, the library’s Board of Trustees was hoping the costs would be under $200,000, but the final price was higher.

The library has a $1.3 million budget this fiscal year, including receiving $916,452 from the county, $15,000 from the city of Covington, $2,400 from the Newton County Board of Education, $256,875 from the state and an estimated $116,300 in various library fees and fines.

HVAC still an issue

The building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is still a major issue, Keaton said.

“We have had two engineering firms give us an assessment of the system. The boiler stopped working and could not be repaired. In order to have any heat this past winter it had to be replaced and the chiller had to be repaired to balance the system. Both repairs were only temporary because it is a specialized system and the crucial major components are no longer being made,” Keaton said in an email.

“We will still need to have the entire system replaced as soon as possible.  We have invested millions of dollars in print materials, microfilm, technology and a local historical collection, all of which can be damaged from exposure to extreme temperatures.”

During frequent discussion last year, library officials said the system could cost $1 million to replace.

The library system doesn’t have money in its budget for a full replacement, and pulling from the library system’s reserve would wipe it out. Officials planned last year to have a $650,000 six-month operating reserve, as recommended by the library system’s internal policy.