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County seeks city help for library
The Newton County library Covington branch is in danger of closing if a costly new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is not installed.

Newton County will step up to save the Covington branch of the library, commissioners said Tuesday, but not before making one last attempt to get the city of Covington to contribute to the library’s costly new heating, air conditioning and ventilation system (HVAC).

Dr. Steven Whatley, chair of the Library Board, informed the board at Tuesday's meeting that “at this time, they [the city] will not be able to contribute.”

“It has been viewed by the other funding agencies as a county responsibility,” Whatley said.

Commissioner Nancy Schulz made a motion to table a decision until June 2 in order to give the chairman time to approach the city in order to negotiate a shared funding plan. 

“This is an effort that needs to be collaborative,” she said.

Commissioner Lanier Sims cautioned against approving the project before the board knew where the money would come from, while Commissioner Levie Maddox expressed doubt that another two weeks would change the minds of city officials. The motion passed 3 to 2.

The new HVAC system is estimated to cost nearly a million dollars. The state has offered $100,000, but it must be spent by the end of June, while the library has some funds in reserve, leaving an unfunded balance of about $800,000. See our digital edition for more on the history of the library and efforts to save it.