Group shows support for reopening Diamondhead library

Published: Dec. 2, 2015 at 2:22 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2015 at 10:54 AM CST
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BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - A lack of funding pulled the plug on a Hancock County library, but now people in Diamondhead are doing their part to bring it back. With signs in hand, a big group gathered at the Hancock County Library Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday to show their support for reopening the East Hancock Library.

Diamondhead resident Beryl Laird volunteered at the library and she's started a petition.

"We've had over 600 signatures on the petition. Everyone I ask is willing to sign it because they would like to see the library reopen," said Laird.

A community development grant following Hurricane Katrina paid for the construction of the library that opened in 2013. Executive director of the Hancock County Library System Courtney Thomas says they didn't have enough money to support a fifth library in the county, forcing it to close earlier this year.

Thomas said she doesn't see it reopening anytime soon.

"Right now the status of opening that library doesn't look very good. We didn't receive any funding for that library. As we've said before, our budget was cut. The county cut us another $46,000 this year. It's a total of 6 percent of our budget over the last three years," said Thomas.

Blaine LaFontaine is one of four newly elected Hancock County supervisors set to take office in January. He presented a letter to the library board making a plea to bring back the Diamondhead library.

"With my review of the budget, I believe in comparing it to other branches. I believe that there are areas that could be addressed to create some savings and to transfer some funds over to the branch in Diamondhead," said LaFontaine.

Thomas said the library will remain closed unless funding is made possible for it.

"If they reassess their priorities and they commit to funding the library, the city of Diamondhead commits to funding the library, then it could reopen. But like I said, that's all in the hands of the people that provide the funds," said Thomas.

Before closing, the Diamondhead library faced a mildew problem and a lack of funding made it difficult to fix.

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