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Hennessey board appoints committee to study options to keep public library

June 04, 2022 - 10:43
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    50 library supporters attended a 10-minute Town Hall meeting of the Hennessey Board of Trustees Wednesday night. [KT&FP Staff Photo by Barb Walter]

More than 50 supporters of the Hennessey Public Library packed Town Hall Wednesday night for a five minute special meeting of the town board.

There wasn’t an opportunity for supporters to speak during the meeting. Instead, board members quickly, and unanimously, approved these motions by Mayor Bert Gritz:

(1) Continue to keep a public library,

(2) Appoint five people to a committee to come up with options for remodeling, restoration and the future of the current 94-year-old brick library structure.

Gritz also said the swimming pool sales tax will be paid off in about six or seven years, and that tax could be continued by voters to help pay for library repairs. That’s a three-quarter cent sales tax that was approved by voters in 2018 on the $2.1 million pool and a15-year loan payoff.

Committee appointed

That committee will recommend an architect, and will be chaired by Jack Quirk of KJ Filmworks and All About Hennessey, said Gritz. Other members are Library Board Chairman Ann Taylor, Trustees Richard Simunek and David Jones, and Town Administrator Tiffany Tillman.

Those committee meetings will be open to the public, and notices will be posted at town hall, and on the town’s website, Tillman said after the meeting.

After a quick adjournment, Gritz thanked those who came, and for their input.

Input from the audience

Then Logan Tillman, standing at the back of the room, had strong words for Simunek.

He said Simunek had posted on All About Hennessey’s FB that the town would throw away the war memorials that are in the library, or sell them.

“I’ve actually served in the military and you’re making allegations that you can’t back up.” Logan Tillman told Simunek. Note: Logan Tillman is the brother-in-law of Tiffany Tillman.

He told Simunek that there are many vets upset, and “you have no proof … I found out there is no proof to your accusations” that they would be taken to the dump.

Simunek replies

Simunek answered by saying when he returned to Hennessey nine years ago he was told by then-library director, Mary Haney, that the town was going to tear down the library.

Simunek, who is also a preservationist, said he’d asked the board, “Where are you going to put all of those priceless items? I asked three times and no one answered.”

Simunek’s last comments were: “I’m not going to back off,” then he left after the discussion.

Trustees Clif Vogt (vice mayor), Harold Shaw, Gritz and Jones stayed and talked to those in the crowd.

At the meeting

Friends of the Library turned out in full-force at the meeting, as did past and present Library Board members, and other library supporters. There were also former mayors Tom Streck and Tim Riddle in the audience.

In addition to Tillman, other staff at the meeting were Library Director Lyndsay Kopsa, Reserve Police Capt. Bryan Burch, and 2022 HHS grad and long-time library volunteer Ashland Crites, who was recently hired for the summer as assistant librarian.

In addition to all trustees, other elected officials at the meeting were Town Clerk Kati Walters and Treasurer Shelley Burch