Hawkins County Library System Board of Directors Chairman James Boehms told the County Commission's Public Buildings Committee earlier this month the library regularly receives offers of free labor to make improvements to the interior of the library. But they don't want to install carpeting and paint walls until exterior work on the doors and "reading room" is completed because exterior work might get the inside dirty again.
Boehms said he believes the current condition of the Rogersville library, both inside and out, makes a bad impression on visitors to the county.
"We have people coming in every day saying, ‘How can we help fix this?’ " Boehms told the committee. "We've had people offer free labor if we provide the materials. We say, ‘We can't do anything with it. Our hands are tied. You have to talk to the city and the county.’ "
Boehms added, "We would like to work with you all, partner with you all, partner in any way we can. A lot of times this is the first place people (visit), coming into Hawkins County for genealogy purposes and get a taste of the area, and it doesn't look good for us."
Retired buildings manager Alana Roberts, who is working part time, told the committee that door replacement and ADA compliance are the first priority at the library/senior center.
Hawkins County is under federal mandate to bring all county facilities into ADA compliance before 2023.
Hawkins County maintains the library/senior center facilities in partnership with the city of Rogersville.
"The project we are primarily involved in, we will be the lead on making repairs to the doors, making them ADA accessible and that sort of thing," Roberts told the committee. "We are partnering with the city ... and the City Council has agreed that the city will pay 60 percent and the county will pay 40 percent of the cost of either making repairs to or replacing what doors need to be replaced and also to do ADA accessible access control."
When somebody comes up to the main doors and presses the button the doors will open on both sides. Also, the ramp to the library entrance is not ADA accessible, so it will have to be taken out and replaced to meet ADA codes. When you come out of the door, it automatically starts to decline. Roberts said it has to come out as a level platform outside before it starts to decline.
Roberts told the committee she has spoken to the city about the reading room/window project, but she wasn't in a position to speak on that project yet.
"Thinking long term, we'd like something done about the windows because they're single-pane windows, and they're starting to chip the paint," Boehms said. "We'd like to be good stewards of the money, and I think we're wasting a lot of energy with the single-pane windows in trying to keep the place warm. At some point, I think we need to budget replacing the windows up there to make it a better building for everybody."
Committee members agreed that the windows and rotting wood need to be replaced and the reading room exterior needs a good paint job.
Roberts said replacement of windows and rotting wood at the library will be placed on the County Commission's list of pending capital outlay projects.