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Oak Hill library set to open Jan. 2011 in West Newton
BOC supports local colleges; abandons Preserve Trail
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Newton County’s western end is scheduled to get its first library in January 2011 as the Newton County Library Board of Trustees prepares to select a general contractor on Sept. 30.

Library Director Greg Heid presented the final design for the Porter Memorial Branch Library to the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, and highlighted many of its state-of-the-art features.

Heid said the library, which will be located at 6190 Highway 212 next to the fire station, was designed with three guiding principles: it had to meet the specific needs of citizens in the western part of the county, it had to be an exciting and inviting place, and it had to be energy efficient, long-lasting and practical to operate.

The citizens who participated in library focus groups placed an emphasis on having: the latest books and DVD movies and the newest in computer technology, energy efficiency and natural lighting and lounge space and technology resources for children, teens and adults.

All of those features will be part of the library, including a specific enclosed, soundproof teen room, a soundproofed quiet room, lounge chairs, tables, an open play area in the juvenile section, separate computer areas for children and adults, televisions, free wireless internet, a family toilet for parents with infants and a family room where children can be taken to calm down.

There will also be a 60-seat meeting room with an attached catering kitchen, and even a garage in the back for receiving materials and housing any future vehicles.

Besides all of the new features, the design places a heavy emphasis on environmentally-friendly technologies. The building will be built on a raised floor, under which all of the heating and cooling equipment will be placed. This design saves money, because its most efficient to directly heat and cool the areas where people are, which is the first 8 feet off the floor, and a raised floor does this well. Heid said high-efficiency Energy Star appliances and heat pumps will be used to save on utility costs.

In addition the library will have a lot of windows to let in natural light, including the north wall, which will be mainly comprised of windows. This northern exposure will let in a lot of light, while avoiding direct sunlight which can overheat the building and damage furniture and books. The windows on the southern wall will have specially-designed shelves which will bounce the light to give indirect light into reading rooms and staff areas. The library will also have light sensors to control the level of lights throughout the day.

Finally, the roof of the library will be designed to catch rain water which will be recycled and used. Water will be directed off of slightly slanted roofs into water cisterns sunk into the ground. Heid said the library will be eligible for a Gold LEED rating, which signifies an environmentally-friendly building.

The library is being located in the Oak Hill area, because the western part of the county is the most densely populated outside of Covington and Oxford. Hours have not yet been determined, but are expected to be similar to the Covington Branch. The branch will be 19,000 square feet, a little over half the size of the Covington Branch. The library is expecting to hire staff in Fall 2010 and will employ around 16 staff members, five of which would be part-time, Heid said. A formal groundbreaking is planned for the second weekend in October.

The construction, furniture and equipment of the building will cost just over $5, million and books will cost an additional $1 million. Heid said the library has received $2 million from a grant from the state and has received $14,000 in private donations. The remainder of the money will come from impact fees.

The branch is being named after James Hyde Porter in appreciation of the continual major donations made to the library system by the Porter Foundation over the last 40 years. Porter was the grandfather of Oliver S. Porter, the founder of Porterdale.

- In other BOC news, District 1 Commissioner Mort Ewing introduced a resolution in support of keeping DeKalb Technical and Georgia Perimeter colleges separate because of their disparate missions. The resolution was created because of talk about a possible merger that was proposed by the Tough Choices or Tough Times working group, which was formed by Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2008. The BOC voted 4-1, with District 2 Commissioner Earnest Simmons opposing the resolution, because he said the state needed to make tough choices.

- Also, the BOC voted to abandon the road, Preserve Trail, off of Ga. Highway 213, because Grove Pointe Church is planning to buy the land where the Bear Creek Preserve subdivision was supposed to have been located. The subdivision is not going to be built, so there is no longer any public use for Preserve Trail. As a result, the BOC unanimously approved the abandonment. Grove Pointe has been having services at East Newton Elementary School, but has been looking for its property for its own church.