Tax money means library work is a go

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 15, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – An influx of tax revenues from Fruit of the Loom means the Concordia Parish Library can proceed with renovations to its Ferriday branch, said Parish Librarian Amanda Taylor.

&uot;And we need it,&uot; Taylor said Friday. &uot;We’re cramped as it is.&uot;

The $1 million project will renovate 4,500 square feet and 6,500 square feet to the library, including new shelves for adult fiction and nonfiction, periodicals and educational programs. It should take 13 to 14 months to complete. The cost will be paid back with proceeds from a 10-year, 8.5-mill property tax voters passed last year.

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Bids for the project were originally scheduled to be let in February or March 2000, but that February the Concordia Parish Library Board decided to wait to let contracts for construction until they found out when the library would receive money from Fruit of the Loom.

Fruit of the Loom — parent company of Vidalia Apparel, the parish’s largest manufacturer – went bankrupt in December 1999. Under a settlement approved in November, the company paid Concordia Parish about one-third of the $2,263,664 it owed in 1999 taxes, interest and penalties. Then on Friday, Sheriff and Tax Collector Randy Maxwell announced that Fruit of the Loom had paid $2,441,645 in taxes for 2000 and that checks to the parish’s government agencies for their share of the money went out Thursday.

&uot;We’ve already called the architects and told them to get the plans ready&uot; for the Ferriday branch additions and renovations, Taylor said.

Ferriday’s library, built in 1950, is cramped for space, with shelves of books spaced only inches apart in some rooms.

There is not room for all employees to have desks.

And when the library holds programs for large groups, employees have to vacate the library’s work room, which doubles as a programming room.

The current employee work room will become a children’s area with books, a story time space and children’s computers.

The existing front room will house the library’s electronic catalog and computerized files.

It will also have up to 25 computers with Internet access for the public to use.

The project will also add two new public restrooms; more parking for staff and patrons, including disabled people; and new ramps for the disabled.

To minimize inconvenience for patrons, the addition will be completed before existing space is renovated.

Planning on renovations and additions to the Vidalia library, which is located in the old parish courthouse on Carter Street, will begin after the $1 million bill for the Ferriday project has been paid.