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Funding close for library branch

The Pikes Peak Library District Foundation received a $500,000 grant toward the completion of the High Prairie Library Branch in Falcon, Colo. Another $125,000 needs to be raised for the $3 million project, said Delores Fowler, executive officer of the PPLD Foundation.Fowler said the Colorado Department of Local Affairs awarded the grant. “This money comes from severance taxes on corporations that extract minerals,” she said. “You’re talking oil and gas, precious metals, companies like that. The department manages those funds and gives them back to the communities that are affected by these operations.”According to a May 1 press release from the office of Gov. Bill Ritter, the Energy and Mineral Assistance Grant money the PPLD received was part of $23.2 million awarded to Colorado communities for projects that will strengthen local economies. There were 55 applicants.Linda Rice, public information officer for DOLA, said the presence of gas and oil exploration firms, gas and electric distribution lines and coal trains in the area were factors that helped determine the district’s grant qualification. “If you were to look at them compared to other counties, purely on impact they may not rank as high, but they did a really great job of meeting the criteria,” Rice said. “They showed a really strong local match and it was a project that has regional importance.”Because funding for the library project is almost complete, Fowler said construction on the new 6,000-square-foot library will start soon. “We’re hoping to have a groundbreaking ceremony sometime probably late summer,” she said. “Our last push is going to be to try to get people to purchase or join together and contribute to buy furniture or a bookcase or book rack or magazine rack. And that’s going to be our final activity to finish this up.”Fowler said there is a tax benefit with a contribution of $250 or more because the project is Enterprise Zone-qualified. “It’s not just a deduction, it’s an income credit,” she said. “So, if I make a gift, I donate $250 or more to this project, then my income is reduced by that much, so it’s really good.”Eastern El Paso County is currently served by the PPLD Mobile Library Services. Fowler said overflowing book drops at the bookmobile indicated a need for a new library. The bookmobile will continue to provide service, even after the library is completed. “It’s not like we’re going to stop the bookmobile. We’re still going to have the bookmobile coming out because the need is so great,” Fowler said. “The PPLD is trying to serve the underserved or not-served public. There are no libraries east of Powers in the district.”Fowler said the PPLD is one of the top 10 libraries in the nation for cities with a population of 500,000 and above. “One of the reasons we’re No. 9 is because we pinch pennies and we are such good stewards of our resources,” she said. “We are able to provide services that compete with communities that have a lot more money per capita than we do from real estate taxes. There’s a gap between what we receive from our mill levy to what we really need to operate at a level that gives you all of these services.”Fowler said library services include checkout and return at any branch, computers, family literacy backpacks for early childhood development, a summer reading program, resume writing classes, career databases, a meeting room and computer classes for seniors.Fowler said the new library won’t necessarily reduce pressures on the PPLD East Library branch. On June 1, 4,400 people walked through the East Library – a record number of visitors, she said. Fowler attributed the exploding usage to the economic downturn. She said people are not just looking for books; they are using the library to help them with job searches.The anticipated date of the High Prairie Library branch completion is spring 2010, Fowler said. It will be located next to Farmers State Bank, which donated the land.For more information or to contribute to the campaign, contact Fowler at 719-531-6333 x2205.

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