November 3, a small Christian County voter turnout narrowly rejected a long-overdue, citizen-produced plan to bring Christian County Library services to near state average. Without funding, convenient, modern libraries cannot happen at this time. From the effort, debts of gratitude remain due and payable.
Hundreds of Christian County citizens participated in mail and telephone surveys and community forums during the six years of resident input into the library improvement proposal.
The State of Missouri and the Missouri State Library approved planning grants to produce the strategic plan and provided training in LibrisDesign, a software to project needs and costs of future libraries. Dr. Mark Ellickson of Opinion Research Specialists arranged, conducted, analyzed and reported on public surveys and forums. Carol Grimes served as a consultant to create several scenarios for improved Christian County libraries, of which the three-library plan was preferred by over seventy percent of a random sampling of citizens.
Springfield-Greene County Library District, MoDOT, OTC, the cities and school districts of Ozark and Nixa, county building and planning and zoning departments, engineers, investment experts, and interested citizens generously gave their knowledge, experience and advice in a valuable panel discussion on the library's situation, future possibilities, site selection, and making choices always in the best interest of citizens.
For a decision on their vote, many residents asked to know where libraries would be located and what they would look like. Thom G. Field, and later Paul White, of Neale and Newman actively worked with the library on site acquisition and provided legal services for real estate and professional services contracts. Owners of three proposed library sites each sold well-located land below appraised market value. Todd Hensley and the People's Bank of Clever, Scott and Naomi Bilyeu of Ozark and Lindel R. Lipes of Sparta individually and collectively provided sites where citizens' vision of better county libraries could become reality. Clever, Ozark and Sparta and Christian County staff worked hard to perfect the deeds, get building sites properly approved, and provide invaluable help in advisory and cooperative capacities. Sparta and Mr. Lipes even offered to share costs to bring an access road up to code.
Michael Sapp, James Stufflebeam and Eric Street of Sapp Design Associates, Architects; engineers Fred Palmerton with Palmerton and Parrish, Inc. and Jared Rasmussen and other Olsson Associates personnel; Aaron Austin of Austin Land Surveying, LLC; National Valuation Services of Springfield, Inc., and Bryan Cox of Engineers Reprographics prepared for sites and libraries where modern and convenient information and community services could be provided to Christian County.
Bond counsel Carson Elliff with Yates, Mauck, Bohrer, Elliff & Fels, P. C.; underwriters Julie Portman and Richard Han, with Edward Jones and Christian County Edward Jones staff, including Patrick Morrison were ready to finance improved library services.
Christian County Commission; Springfield-Greene County Library District personnel who hoped to show Christian County residents what support for local library services could provide to Missouri citizens who choose it for themselves; current and past members of the Board of Trustees of the Christian County Library; Friends of the Christian County Library; Friends of Clever Public Library; Christian County Library staff; members of the SUCCEED - Support Christian County Education and Enhancement through library Development; Richwood and Ozarks Technical Community College administration; and the LIFE - Library Improvements For Everyone Campaign committee and many who contributed money, time and effort to the committee gave moral support, encouragement and a lot of hard work toward providing county residents with the robust and thriving library services residents request and need.
Christian County voters’ community pride, love and respect for future county residents and understanding of the opportunities uniquely available right now in the bargain rates of both building and financing led them to support at the polls what would have been truly community, life quality and Library Improvements For Everyone.
Its Thanksgiving. For all those listed above who understood and cared about what Library Improvements For Everyone meant for Christian County, we are deeply grateful. Thank You!