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Jemison Council discusses office, library options

By JOYANNA LOVE/Senior Staff Writer

The Jemison City Council discussed the possibility of purchasing a historic building in downtown to relocate the Jemison Public Library and converting the current library space into offices during a work session on Nov. 8.

Mayor Eddie Reed said the discussion was prompted by a League of Municipalities article emphasizing the importance of having the municipal court clerk in an office separate from the other clerks and separate from the police department.

The City Hall is not large enough to accomplish this.

“I never would have dreamed that one day this building would get to where we need more room, but it has gotten there,” Reed said.

Moving the library to the rescue building had been discussed previously, but Reed and City Administrator Shannon Welch said purchasing the building, which is the old City Hall and fire station, would be a better option.

“It is a well-preserved building,” Reed said.

A structural engineer has inspected the building and said the building is sound and stable. Reed said the building could also be insured with the city’s current company, if the city were to purchase the building.

Council members liked the idea of preserving a building with such history to the city.

Councilman Rex Bittle said he liked the idea of purchasing the building, because then they would be a part of improvements to the older part of town that have started.

Councilman Sam Reed expressed concern about heating the building. Welch said the city could purchase mini split units that could heat and cool the building for less money than a traditional HVAC unit.

Reed suggested that a drop ceiling may be needed to help keep the building warm, if the city put the library there. Welch said there was insulation in the ceiling, but a drop ceiling could be added if necessary.

Upgrades to the building to convert it into a library could be done with a recent donation from Rep. April Weaver and Sen. Cam Ward and additional funds the city has recently received outside of the usual tax revenue.

If the city does purchase the building, the goal would be to keep the look of the building as intact as possible.

“The building is absolutely gorgeous,” Welch said.

Keeping the fire truck bay doors but sealing them off was discussed as a possibility.

The Council also heard an update on a surplus of revenue above what had been budgeted. Plans were discussed for putting a portion of it into reserves.

“To end our fiscal year with that surplus of money on hand just absolutely shows (how) well the Council has done dealing with the financial issues of the city,” Reed said.