Webster Breaks Ground On Library

Photo: David Slone/Times-Union

NORTH WEBSTER – The new North Webster Community Public Library is expected to open its doors to its new building in June 2020.

Wednesday afternoon, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the future location of the library at 301 N. Main St. It’s been five years in the making.

Library Board of Directors President Phil Metcalf welcomed the several dozen people to Wednesday’s ceremony.

“It’s the day we’ve been working toward,” he said before introducing the people who helped the library get to this point.

He named the board of directors – including Tisha Holsten, LuAnn Kissinger, Cindy Hilgenberg, Terry Frederick, Phil Metcalf, Linda Stookey and Eleanor Hooker – who have been working on the project for the last five years.

All the library staff, who were wearing T-shirts with a rendering of what the new facility will look like, were introduced. Metcalf said North Webster is a town of about 1,100 people but 102,000 people came through the library’s doors last year. He gave a special mention to Librarian Helen Frank.

“In this process, lots of events had to happen,” Metcalf said. The major event was the board going to the Kosciusko County Commissioners and asking for their permission for it to happen and add to the tax base to pay for it. Thankfully, he said, they agreed.

Representing the commissioners Wednesday was Brad Jackson; with Sue Ann Mitchell, Kim Cates and Joni Truex representing the county council. Representing the Wawasee School Board were Rob Fisher and Mike Wilson, while Lester Mast, Dave May and Lisa Strombeck represented town officials. Tippecanoe Township trustee Chris Francis was recognized, as was the Chamber of Commerce officials.

Metcalf said another important thing the board began to do five years ago was figure out what to do to the library as it was running out of space. There was discussion  around what to do with the existing building and the board had a “lengthy” discussion, he said.

The board decided to build a new library, but first it needed land and it began discussions with the North Webster Community Center. The end of the NWCC building was full of asbestos, mold and other “disgusting” things, Metcalf said, so the library couldn’t go in there. But through negotiations with the NWCC, the library board decided to buy the building, demolish it and repair it, and then build anew.

“We want to thank the Community Center,” Metcalf said, for their efforts. He recognized its board members.

“Everything fell into place for the different entities to say this is what we want to do,” Metcalf said.

The next step was to find a company that would help navigate the process. MKS out of Fort Wayne was chosen. They guided the library through the process, helping it to select MKM Architect & Design for the next steps. MKM’s architect sat down with the board to figure out who they were and what they wanted, and Metcalf said the architect created something the community will be proud of when it is completed.

Metcalf said the new library will help revitalize the town, and in June 2020 the community will see a facility they’ll be happy to use.

As the project goes forward, Metcalf pointed to a camera on top of a pole that the public can access through the library’s website to view the building progress.

He thanked everyone for supporting the library, for everyone who donated funds toward the new building and noted the fundraising is ongoing.

“Just wait until 2020. We will have a wonderful grand opening and a great ribbon-cutting,” he said.