Library ‘vision’ goes to work

Last Wednesday’s groundbreaking marks start of $4 million renovation effort

Shovels poised, the adults were all about ceremony, but Elliot Arens went straight to work at Wednesday’s library groundbreaking.

Elliot, 12, immediately began stomping on his shovel while library and government officials posed for pictures at the official first dig next to the 88-year-old Carnegie Library building. The $4 million Hood River County Library expansion project gets going this week. Bigger shovels are scheduled to go into action, as work begins on transforming the historic fixture on State Street downtown. (Please see sidebar.)

“It’s another historical day in Hood River County,” said Elliot’s dad, Hood River County Commission Chairman John Arens, during Wednesday’s ceremony, attended by about 100 people. “The turnout today shows that it takes a community to build a library.”

Elliot said, “It felt good to be part of it. It’s nice to know all three generations were here.”

Besides the official groundbreaking photo, the entire assembly posed for a photo at the site, just as community members did in 1913 when the Carnegie Building was constructed.

Elliot Arens was not the only youngster in on the official groundbreaking. Library Foundation president Linda Rouches’ granddaughter, Courtney, kept an oversized hardhat balanced on her head during the ceremony.

“This is a continuation of nearly a century of library service,” said Mike Schend, Library Foundation member, in his introductory comments. “And this is also the beginning of a new era.”

Schend and Rouches said thanks for the new library becoming a reality primarily go to the voters of Hood River County, who two years ago approved $3 million in construction bonds to expand the library.

“The voters approved the bonds at a time when there was high unemployment and other economic difficulties,” Rouches said, “but in these tough economic times the community said, ‘we’re going to build a library.’”

“We thank the Hood River community for sharing this vision with all of the departments and all of the employees who will be working hard all this next year (on the expansion project.)

“It will be a huge undertaking, but in about a year we’ll all be able to say, ‘I helped build that library, and I’m really proud of it.’”

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