Dowagiac proceeding with District Library

Published 1:49 am Friday, April 18, 2003

By By JOHN EBY / Dowagiac Daily News
A planning committee representing the City of Dowagiac, Dowagiac Union School District and Wayne Township decided Thursday to recommend continuing to pursue formation of a district library.
Two issues need to be understood, Nelson said:
Councilman Bob Schuur said, "I think everyone would have to agree" that if Silver Creek approves joining Cass District Library July 8, "we've done everything we could and then we have only one choice left, and that's to join Cass."
Laing's motion was amended to include a provision that if millage passes to permit Silver Creek to join Cass District Library, "We will cease efforts at that point in time," said school board member Bill Lawrence.
The next planning committee meeting was set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 29, at City Hall.
Another library board member, Bev White, said, "I think if we could hold off until after this vote because I felt that the majority of the people at the meeting last night who are in Silver Creek Township, that was not their voice they were hearing. Some of them didn't even understand what's going on. I think what we're hearing is not really from the people, but a select few. Go ahead with all of our preliminary stuff" to be ready when a time for action comes.
Supervisor Dr. Frank Butts said Wayne Township "would be very supportive of requesting that we wait until they've had their election. I understand your dilemma and where you're going to go with this thing, but the point Judy's made about what happens if it fails, I'm certain in my own mind that they'll try to schedule a second election as soon as they can. I think if we can get past that July 8 date and it fails … if it passes, then that's it. We'd have no choice with the ballgame headed the direction it seems to be going. But if we can wait that long, Wayne Township is certainly supportive of helping to pay for some of the legal fees," as is the Ladies Library Association, indicated President Lisa Shank.
Lawrence questioned the sufficiency of library operational millage in a district consisting of Dowagiac and Wayne Township.
Fusko said if Silver Creek residents reject joining Cass District Library, the township could be "pulled in by the schools" since the school board is the sponsoring municipality.
Nelson said, "What we were hoping for all along is, because the city has roughly 50 percent of the district library's population, by having a districtwide election, as opposed to just the city, just Silver Creek Township, just Wayne Township, we would have a better chance of getting that levy passed.
Nelson said the planning committee had been "very optimistic" that the school district vote Jan. 13 provided "a breakthrough point" to furnish stable and equitable funding.
Then Silver Creek applied to Cass District Library. Without Silver Creek, the financial viability of the district is less sound -- and maybe more precarious with loss of penal fines and state aid.
Cass District Library since October 2001 oversees the public library through a series of six-month contracts.