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Library to use reserve funds for repairs
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The Newton County Library System is pulling from its reserve fund to pay for needed repairs to a leaking roof and failing heating and air conditioning systems, and is expected to put the repairs out for bid as soon as possible.

The library’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to have Director Lace Keaton and architect Stuart Stenger, with firm Craig Gaulden Davis, prepare requests for proposal for the repairs. The board voted after looking at an assessment of its Covington Branch Library prepared by Craig Gaulden Davis.

Some of the Covington branch’s biggest issues appear to be related to the original construction and installation of equipment, according to the report and board members.

The report said the library had visible water damage in 39 different locations inside and outside of the library, while the roof had 18 visible spots. The building was constructed in 1997 and has a combination metal and asphalt roof; the report recommended the entire asphalt roof be replaced by water-tight roofing to eliminate future concerns. Another option is to only repair the valleys and make sure they have proper flashing — sheet metal installed in shingle rooflines to prevent leaking.

The asphalt shingles are approximately 15 years old, and the report said the average lifespan of shingles is 15 to 30 years old.

The report said most of leaks appeared to be where the roof changed from one material to another and there was a valley in the roof. The report also said it was unclear whether there was flashing installed at those valleys.

Board member Betty Bledsoe said the roof didn’t last longer and has been having issues for years because it wasn’t installed correctly. Board member Frank Turner Sr. wondered if the roof failed earlier because of storm damage.

The library board previously voted to take $100,000 from its reserve fund to use as matching money for a $100,000 state grant, board Chair Steve Whatley said. He said he believes that money should cover roof repairs unless there is more damage than expected.

The building’s heating and air-conditioning system is more complicated as multiple repairs and replacements to the system have been made over the years, according to the report.

The report said immediate actions should include replacing the building’s boiler at an estimated cost of $67,000, repairing the building’s chillers and evaluating and, if needed, repairing the control system.

"It is evident from looking at different pieces of information that the system originally was not designed properly and over the years, different attempts have been made to patch the system," according to the report. "At this time, the equipment is old and several patches were not designed correctly."

Repairing the chiller and replacing the boiler will keep the building operating for the next year, the report said. The report said further repairs should be made as they can in the future after a more complete analysis of all the systems by an engineering firm.

The library previously set aside $50,000 for HVAC repairs and will set aside another $100,000, also from reserves, Whatley said; another $94,000 will be set aside from reserves as an emergency contingency.

The library will still have a $650,000 six-month operating reserve as recommended by its policy.

Budget approved

The library approved its $1.3 million budget contingent on the county officially approving its budget, including its appropriation to the library.

The library’s revenues will be $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 $116,300 in various library fees and fines.

Search on for Porter Memorial branch manager

Brenda Poku, former branch manager of the Porter Memorial Branch Library, left for a position with the Savannah library system in May. The library is currently taking applications for the branch manager position, Keaton said.

The salary range is $42,000 to $46,000 based on experience and requires a master’s degree in library or information science with at least one to three years of experience of management experience in a library.

Interested applicants can get a form online at