Democrat Photo by Rob Potter
SIGN HERE: North Branch resident Marion Ziegler signs up for Wednesdays library vote with election officials Jackie Peters, center, and Noreen Mudge.
Voters Approve Library Merger
By Rob Potter
SULLIVAN COUNTY April 7, 2000 -- The recently formed Sullivan West Central School District will soon have a merged library to serve its students.
On Wednesday, voters in the former school districts of Delaware Valley, Jeffersonville-Youngsville and Narrowsburg approved a proposition to merge the Delaware Free Library in Callicoon, the Jeffersonville Public Library and Tusten-Cochecton Library in Narrowsburg into one school district public library.
In what was considered a heavy voter turnout, 357 people said yes to the merger and only 183 cast a no ballot.
The proposal also set a budget of $315,386 for the 2000-2001 fiscal year for the merged library. Through tax appropriation, taxpayers of the Sullivan West district will provide $279,953 of that total or approximately 44 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Although wide margins existed in Callicoon and Narrowsburg, the merger passed in Jeff by only 19 votes 140-121. In Callicoon, it was 118-47, while Narrowsburg had 99-15.
The merged library, which will maintain the existing library buildings as branches, will offer access to over 52,000 items in a combined collection. Its boundaries are the same as the Sullivan West Central School District and covers several hundred square miles approximately a quarter of Sullivan County.
Voters also elected a nine-member board to serve the new merged library. A total of 12 candidates most of whom currently serve on one of the three existing library boards were listed on the ballot, and residents were asked to vote for no more than nine of them.
The new combined board will include: Gloria Krause (who received 335 votes), Keith Robisch (330 votes), Barbara Harder (329 votes), Beth Peck (321 votes), Marguerite Brown (309 votes), Dan Hust (297 votes), William Whalen (294 votes), James Halloran (292 votes) and Rhoda Epstein (273 votes).
Ironically, the board has the same 4-3-2 make-up as the Sullivan West school board meaning that four members have served on the Jeffersonville Public Library board (Harder, Brown, Whalen and Epstein), three on the Tusten-Cochecton board (Krause, Peck and Halloran) and two from the Delaware Free Library board (Robisch and Hust).
The newly-elected board members will not hold any official meetings or conduct official merged library business before July 1. On that date, which marks the beginning of the fiscal year, the library merger will become official.
It is expected that the nine new board members will hold their first formal meeting sometime in July.