By BOBBY HORN JR.
HIGHLANDS– While Harris County has adopted a wait and see approach concerning a new library in Highlands, one local service organization has begun taking a proactive stance in seeing the library become a reality.
According to Theresa Cashion, chairperson of special projects for the Pilot Club of Highlands, the club has secured over $20,000 in pledges and letters of intention to donate toward construction of the library provided that the construction begins within three years.
Cashion said that a new library in Highlands was identified by club members years ago as a critical need for the community when the club first formed. Since that time, she said, they began working with then-Commissioner Jim Fonteno to build the community a new library.
What was considered substantial progress was made this past September when the issue was put before Commissioners Court. At that time, County Librarian Cathy Parks requested $3.3 million for a 14,000 square foot facility. The current Stratford Branch Library which opened in the 1960s, is 2,900 square foot.
Before taking the issue to the Commissioners Court, the county applied for a community development grant to build the library. Parks said that the grant was denied because the income level of Highlands was too high.
At that time there was speculation that a new library would be located on North Main Street near Wallisville Road. Parks said that the Goose Creek CISD had indicated a willingness to donate the land adjacent to the walking track for the library. However, when the grant application was rejected, the offer was withdrawn.
Cashion said that at the September Commissioners Court meeting, commissioners tabled the item until after the November general election. Following the election the commissioners said that there were no specific funds available for the library. Cashion added that commissioners have expressed a willingness to consider taking the project from the capital improvements fund.
In March, the Commissioners Court is expected to adopt the countys budget for the next fiscal year. Cashion said that until that happens the county has decided to adopt the wait and see policy.
Cashion said that the primary need for the new library concentrates mostly in the area of its reference section. She said that library has an excellent childrens program and book section but that the reference section needs expanding and that more computers are needed for those students who dont have access to them at home.
By BOBBY HORN JR.