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Library board to discuss budget, staff
Summer programs keep moving forward
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The Newton County Library System isn’t getting any more money in fiscal year 2014 to bail it out of budget woes, but at least it appears the county isn’t going to cut its budget, as officials try to decide how to deal with expensive building repairs.

The Library Board of Trustees has another called meeting at 10 a.m. today to discuss the budget and will have an executive session to discuss personnel issues, Library Director Lace Keaton said.

Officials have been discussing for months how they’re going to pay for what could end up being around $1 million in HVAC repairs, and though they’ll have a $100,000 state grant to repair a leaking roof, they still need to raise matching funds.

The hope is that the HVAC repairs can be made in phases, but the board hired an architecture firm to study the issues and come back with a report.

The library’s annual budget this fiscal year was $1.35 million, with $916,452 coming from the county and some money coming from the city of Covington as well.

The city and county are both expected to maintain their funding levels.

Summer reading programs
Budget concerns aren’t affecting the library’s summer reading programs, which are in full swing.

This year’s youth program is called “Dig into Reading” and offers children 17 or younger the chance to earn prizes, including one reader who will win a Kindle.

Children who register for the program, which ends July 31, and read at least eight books or, for the younger ones, have eight books read to them and turn a reading log into the library are eligible for prizes.

For the more ambitious readers who manage to finish 20 or more books, their names will be entered into a drawing for a Kindle. Children can register and participate at the Covington and Porter Memorial branches and the Newborn Service Outlet.

There will also be themed entertainment, including African animal tales today and a pirate-themed show July 17 and a visit from a reptile expert July 31. All events are at all three branches, beginning at Covington at 10:30 a.m., then moving to Newborn at 1 p.m., and Porter Memorial at 4 p.m.

The Atlanta Braves also are sponsoring their Home Run Readers Program through Aug. 10 via If children read a book on sports or sportsmanship and complete a short writing assignment or other online activity, they can earn one free ticket.

The program is open to Georgia students in grades K-12. Family members and friends will be able to get discounted tickets for $7 each.

Guardians of children who were born in 1997 or later and are participating in the library’s “Dig into Reading” program also can enter the Path 2 College 529 sweepstakes, where they can possibly win a $5,529 college savings account. Go to for full details.

Children’s area’s new look
For those who haven’t seen the remodeled children’s area at the Covington Branch Library, officials are inviting people to check it out and say it’s gotten positive feedback.

The room has been reoriented to create a more open children’s play area and allow more natural light into the building; new carpet was also installed because the old carpet was beginning to form ridges that could have been a tripping hazard.

The carpet repair cost $27,778, while the cost to move all of the books and bookshelves in and out of the room cost $14,875. A $20,000 state grant helped pay part of the costs.

“I think it looks great,” Keaton said. “The first day that it opened, we walked out and the kids tuck their head in and said, ‘Wow.’ Every community should have a library where people walk in and say, ‘Wow.’ That’s how feel about it.”