owl LAKE

LAKE: Kay Harris resignation from SGRL Chair and Board [Up]

Received by LAKE 20 March 2013.
March 15, 2013

Joe Pritchard
County Manager
Lowndes County
327 N. Ashley St.
Valdosta, GA 31601

Dear Mr. Pritchard:

It is with great regret that I find the need to step down from the Lowndes County
and South Georgia Regional Library Board of Trustees. I fear that I am no longer
capable of holding this position in light of the county's recent actions.

As you are aware, the Board has worked for nearly 4 years to plan the future of
the library system in Lowndes County. The result has been a comprehensive
strategic plan based on current and future needs, and a sensible building plan.
The library is already on the "hot list" of library projects to be funded by the
General Assembly next year as well as having a pledge of $1 million for naming
rights, with another $1 million potential pledge for the new facility, significantly
reducing the cost of construction to be borne by the county.

However, the county's recent decision to abandon the library project in favor of
allocating additional dollars to the city to replace infrastructure the city's leaders
have knowingly and wilfully allowed to deteriorate for 30 years is beyond
comprehension. Considering that more than half of the City's SPLOST VII list
consists of debt repayment, county residents are essentially now paying the city's
bills. Not all county residents are residents of Valdosta and should not have to
pay for that city's issues.

If the SPLOST VII passes, the library will not be able to receive construction
funds for a minimum of six additional years, leaving it to stand for at least 10
more. The building cannot sustain that many more years of usage, nor can the

Not only does the county's decision affect the library building and staff, it affect
the children, students and educators of the community by denying them
adequate and sufficient access to educational materials, adequate computer
access and therefore, will cost the community dearly in terms of opportunities
and educational attainment.

The county's decision also directly impacts South Georgia Medical Center. As
the construction on its main campus draws to a close this year, and construction
continues on its joint project with VSU, SGMC was looking to purchase the library
property in order to turn its main façade to the Woodrow Wilson side and expand
further. As one of our region's primary economic engines, to deny SGMC the
ability to complete their campus footprint for nearly a decade is choking off the
only area of growth they have available to them.

I do not respect or support the decision of the county commission to put one
municipality's wants ahead of the county's needs that would have provided direct
benefit to all of the citizens of the county, not just those in a select geographic
region. The city has millions in funding available if they so chose to make them
available, with no need to further cripple county services.

My resignation from the library board will allow me to continue working on behalf
of the library, but unencumbered by the direct oversight of the county.

I am determined not to give up on this very worthy cause, despite the fact that
the county appears to have done so.


Kay Harris

Cc: Board of Commissioners
       Library Board of Trustees