DYERSBURG, Tenn, Oct 28, 2010 -- Public libraries are a cornerstone of rural communities, providing essential educational and workforce development opportunities for all ages. For these reasons the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced funding for construction and improvements to 129 libraries in 30 states, benefiting more than 1.7 million people in rural towns across the country.
Today the agency brought a big piece of that investment to downtown Dyersburg. USDA Rural Development Undersecretary Dallas Tonsager and State Director Bobby Goode joined members of the Dyersburg-Dyer County Library Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce to announce American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) funding for the McIver’s Grant Public Library. The announcement was made at the Lannom Center.
Federal Recovery Act funds for the project include a $2,408,000 low-interest community infrastructure loan and a $200,000 grant. The funds will be used to renovate and convert the old Piggly Wiggly building across from City Hall where the McIver’s Grant Public Library will be moved. The new facility will have about 16,400 square feet of usable space, all on one floor, and include more public access to the Internet and meeting space for activities like distance learning, worker training and video teleconferencing for area businesses.
According to local officials current facilities need significant repairs to the roof, electrical and HVAC systems; do not meet State recommendations on square footage for the population served; has too few parking spaces and does not meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Officials say it would cost as much or more to meet federal and state requirements in the current building and because of its location there would be no place to add needed space to the 98 year old building.
The investment is part of a USDA initiative launched by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to revitalize rural libraries and increase educational opportunities for people in rural America. By improving the building, parking and adding green space the new library facilities will also bring more people downtown providing a boost to Dyersburg’s downtown revitalization.
"The people of Dyersburg are lucky to have a dedicated group of local leaders who have invested the time and energy it took to secure the financing," said Goode.
"The disproportionate economic hardship rural Tennesseans continue to endure as a result of the recession is no secret," said Goode. "Unfortunately, these are the same communities where people are less likely to have access to training and other resources available with high speed Internet."
"Public libraries are a natural place to bridge this gap. More adult workers turn to them every day; to search and apply for jobs online, access training to expand their skills, apply for assistance and seek answers to health, legal and other issues aggravated by unemployment," Goode said.
The Library Foundation officially kicked-off a Capital campaign and proceeds from the sale of the old Post Office, which currently houses the library, will be used to reduce the debt for the new construction. Cable One will also continue to lease part of the renovated space and will provide high speed Internet access for the facility. Construction is expected to begin in early spring.
Others participating in the event included Rep. John Tanner’s Representative Tom Turner, Dyersburg-Dyer County Chamber President Joe Emery, Dyersburg-Dyer County Public Library Foundation Chair Dr. Robert Harrington and board member Katie Winchester, Dyersburg Mayor John Holden, Dyer County Mayor Richard Hill, State Rep. Judy Barker, State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, USDA-RD Area Director Harriet Cannon and staff Brenda Horner, Tyler Hayes and Mitzi Hailey.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was designed to jumpstart the nation's economy, create or save millions of jobs and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act included measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.
More information about USDA’s Recovery Act efforts is available at www.usda.gov/recovery.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, community infrastructure, homeownership and affordable rental housing in rural communities. Last year Rural Development assisted more than 1.5 million rural Tennessee families and businesses with more than $1 billion in financial assistance through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in Northwest Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Union City at 731-885-6480 ext. 4, toll free at 1-800-342-3149 extension 1497, or visit us online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA,
Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410,
or call (800) 795-3272 TDD (615) 783-1397.