For many years, members of the Dyer County Library Board and the library's Foundation Board have dreamed of a new facility for McIver's Grant Public Library. The library, located in the city's historic old post office building, had long since outgrown the antiquated wiring, parking and space constraints of its location. ADA-accessibility was another formidable hurdle to those in control of the future of the facility.
In October 2010, local officials joined together in the lobby of the Lannom Center to accept a $2.4 million loan and a $200,000 grant to begin turning the dream of a new building into a reality. That same day, library officials announced the kickoff the library's capital campaign to create a new facility out of an empty grocery store in downtown Dyersburg.
At 10 a.m., on Friday, March 29, state and local representatives, elected officials, Chamber leaders, volunteers and residents throughout the community joined together for a ribbon cutting for McIver's Grant Public Library's new facility -- now open with expanded hours and programming.
Many local businesses and offices were closed in honor of Good Friday and the large turnout impressed leaders visiting the community for the event. Those on hand from the state level included Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and State Director of Rural Development Bobby Goode. State Rep. Bill Sanderson was also in attendance alongside local leaders, donors and volunteers.
After a chance to tour the facility, the group gathered outside the building under overcast skies and braved the start of spring showers. As the official ribbon cutting began, several leaders offered their congratulations on a job well done.
"One of the first phone calls I received from Bill Sanderson after he was elected was 'How are you going to help us build this library?'" said Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett. "I know we have a great facility here. It is beautiful. It is one of the best, I believe, in the state now. It says a lot about Dyersburg and Dyer County that you have invested (in a project) like this. I am just overwhelmed that on a Good Friday morning at 10 a.m. that we had such a wonderful crowd to show their support for a world-class facility."
"This project is special to me," said State Director of Rural Development Bobby Goode. "I actually was in on the very start of the project and now I am here on the end of it, maybe in a different role."
Goode credited longtime library advocate Carol Harris for her role in getting the project going and his staff for their diligent work throughout the process.
"Carol and I were at the initial meeting in Nashville on how they could turn this store, this Piggly Wiggly, into a library. And look at what it is today," said Goode. "On the day of the check presentation I brought the undersecretary of agriculture to this parking lot and I don't think he ever thought this would be a library. I look forward to sending him some pictures."
Good said McIver's Grant Public Library's new facility was the last Recovery Act project funded in the nation through the stimulus package. He recalled the many phone calls he received as the deadline drew near and his relief when the project received an additional $200,000 in grant funding at the last moment.
"All of you folks coming out today says a lot about this community," said State Rep. Bill Sanderson. "In 2008, when I was running for office for the first time, this was an old rundown grocery store building and it was a dream of yours to put it together into what it is today. I'm proud, but it says a lot about you guys and Dyersburg and Dyer County. You guys are special and this is a dream that's come true. Congratulations to you."
"I am grateful for this library," said Dyer County Mayor Richard Hill. "I am really proud of this library and what it is going to mean to our community, even after we are gone. We say a big 'thank you' to those of you who worked so hard to make this come together."
"We'd just like you to put your money where your mouth is," said Library Foundation Board member Dr. Doug Haynes, reaching out to shake Hill's hand and earning a chuckle from those attending the ribbon cutting.
Although the library's new building is now open to the public, library officials still need to raise $600,000 to pay off the loan from Rural Development. With extended hours and programming, Haynes reminded donors attending the library's cocktail gala the evening before that the library is still in need of additional funds.
"This is a wonderful asset to our community," said Dyersburg Mayor John Holden. "(There have been) so many volunteers and so many people working to make this a reality. We are certainly proud of this and glad to have the library as a neighbor to City Hall."
"This is something that is going to mean a lot to our community," said Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce Board President Larry White. "When we talk about industry coming in, this is something we are proud to show off."
"I want to thank everyone for coming out today," said McIver's Grant Public Library Director Dara Gonzales. "This is an investment. It is a community effort that has been many years in the making and we are going to do something really good with what you have given us. We are going to give it back a million times over. We thank you all very, very much."