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Harnett communities fight to save libraries

Posted July 18, 2011
Updated July 20, 2011

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— The Coats and Anderson Creek communities of Harnett County are fighting to save their local libraries, which commissioners say they were forced to close due to budget cuts.

At a council meeting in Angier Monday night, residents urged county leaders to reconsider the decision, which commissioners said will save the county about $140,000, for the sake of educating the children in those communities.

"When we take their resources away and they don't succeed, we'll be pointing our fingers at them, but the children will turn around and point fingers at us," said Leigh Ann Westbrook. "How many more educational things can we take away from our children?"

Home-schooled student Spencer Westbrook, 12, also spoke at the meeting in support of his community library.

"Almost all of my learning is done at the Coats library," Spencer Westbrook said. Harnett libraries close Harnett communities fight to save libraries

The town of Coats has an agreement with Harnett County to be given six months notice before closing any library, but the libraries were closed with only a few weeks warning, residents said.

"We got down to those last few days and we had to have a budget by July 1, so it was an oversight and we'll correct that," said Chairman Timothy McNeill.

McNeill said commissioners had to cut more than $6 million from the county budget because they didn't raise taxes. He said they'll work with the town of Coats to honor the six-month agreement.

"The books are still there. The computers are there. The town of Coats was paying the light bill anyway, so it's just a matter of personnel to keep the doors open," he said.

Residents who attended Monday's meeting offered a possible solution: staffing the libraries with volunteers.

Commissioners said it's an option they'll consider.

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  • sward Jul 20, 2011

    This comment is in response to the comments by rebelyell57. You have no idea what you are talking about when you discuss the vehicles driven by Harnett County Public Utilities employees. Harnett County Public Utilities is an enterprise fund and does not use a penny of tax money. We are not part of the general fund which is in financial straits. Parking Public Utility vehicles does not save the general fund any money at all. In fact, Public Utilities subsidizes tax payers and the general fund in the County to the tune of $1.5 million dollars per year. That equals 2 cents on the tax rate. The whole ruse that parking trucks will somehow help the taxpayers and the general fund is ludicrous. Get your facts straight rebelyell57 and be man enough to tell us your real identity and what your real agenda is.

  • rebelyell57 Jul 19, 2011

    teacher56, I am sure your statistics are correct but the three commissioners who typically vote together are two democrats and one republican. Chairman, McNeil is a democrat, Hill is a democrat, and Andrews is a republican. These are the three that voted in favor of the budget that passed. So if people in Harnett County actually voted in more democrats they would probably end up getting more of the same. And just so you know, not only do these three typically vote together but Hill and Andrews sometimes look down the table to see how McNeil is voting before they vote. I'm not saying democrats are bad. I typically vote democrat myself. But what you have in Harnett County is a few wannabe's that really have no business leading. This includes the county manager and the Director of Public Utilities. It is a good ole boy club. Harnett County needs better leadership. Right now the man for that looks to be Gary House who happens to be a republican. Teddy Byrd was an excellent lead

  • teacher56 Jul 19, 2011

    Facts prove points: In Harnett County 42.2% voted Democratic and 56.95 Republican and .85 Libertarian. In the town of Coats: Dem votes 224 and Republicans 459. So again, if a population is going to vote for politicians who make draconian cuts that will close needed services, then let the population deal with the consequences of their vote. If you didn't like the Coats Library being cut, then vote Dem in 2012! To all the persons who feel that volunteers can man a library: a librarian is an educated person who is a vital part of how a library serves the people of a community. You can't just close down a library and "replace" him/her with a volunteer. They do more than just pass out books! Sheesh....get an education people!!! Look and research what these politicians vote on BEFORE you elect them to office!

  • brentf777 Jul 19, 2011

    I can agree about fire protection, but if you have a shortage of law enforcement consider yourself blessed. Police in this country have largely abandoned the constrains placed on them by the Constitution and become a power unto themselves, and not for our good. I'd rather had not enough cops than too many! The small decrease in my safety is more than made up for by the large increase in my liberty.

  • rebelyell57 Jul 19, 2011

    I agree with you on the LEO, cantstandya. Keep in mind that the three commissioners, Hill, McNeil, and Andrews, voted to make huge cuts to law enforcement which would have led to laying off probably eight deputies. All of this while county employees continued to drive vehicles home at night, building a new public utilities building, and a new recreational building. I think the recreational building was long over due but to do all of these things and lay off sheriff's deputies is really just a lack of priorities.

  • cantstandya Jul 19, 2011

    Live in Western Harnett and could count on my one hand how many times I have seen a Harnett county LEO in our area,get more attention from Moore county LEO,s,could care less about the library,we want law enforcment and fire protection since we pay taxes also,really would just like to get annexed into Moore county but they like taking our money in Harnett too much for that to happen.

  • brentf777 Jul 19, 2011

    Government has an unquenchable desire for more taxes. Less spending is what's needed. Government officials often give the public black and white choices (raise taxes or shut things down) when more options than this are usually available. I think staffing the library with volunteers is a great idea. The power company could also be approached with the option to make a tax deductible donation of electricity for the building and have some good PR.

  • edith wharton Jul 19, 2011

    Maybe one of the Harnett Co millionaires will take some of the money s/he doesn't pay in taxes for this year and give it to libraries. Isn't that how this privitization stuff is supposed to work?

  • tarheelbaby99 Jul 19, 2011

    The people also voted for no new taxes. If citizens had voted for the 1/4 cent sales tax increase, you probably would have your libraries, the tax would haved affected everyone in the county fairly (as opposed to a property tax increase) and you wouldn't really have noticed it much. There are other libaries in the county that folks can use - I just don't see that this is such a big deal. If thoses that homeschool their kids are upset, then volunteer your services to keep it open.

  • carykad Jul 19, 2011

    @teacher56:Having a library is a wonderful resource for the community, however, we must remember that most people in Harnett County voted Republican and these are the politicians who CUT this and many other services. THE PEOPLE WHO VOTE FOR THIS MESS SHOULD HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE CONSEQUENCE WHICH MEANS NO MONEY TO FUND POSITIONS AT THE LIBRARY!!! If the citizens do not like this, vote Democratic come Nov. 2012! Citizens should be made to "feel" the cuts that they so desperately wanted in electing politicians who in fact, put those cuts in place.
    teacher56

    I sincerely hope that you are NOT indeed a teacher, but it would explain the poor education kids in Harnett Co. are getting. As far as being a democrat, well that is obvious from your lack of knowledge about your subject matter. You need to check your facts!

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