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Wesson library on list for renovations

Men with hammers and nails and hardhats may soon shatter the silence in the Wesson Public Library.

And nobody’s going to “shush” them when they do.

Wesson Mayor Alton Shaw told aldermen at a city meeting Tuesday night the town is nearing the end of the selection process for a Community Development Block Grant through the Mississippi Development Authority could drop around $300,000 into the library’s bank account for renovations. The cash, if awarded, would be used to bring the facility into compliance with the Americans with Disability Act by constructing entrance and parking improvements and expanding the interior space.

“The U.S. Census lists 99 ADA citizens in the town of Wesson, and right now they have limited access to the library,” Shaw said. “The building needs a tremendous overhaul.”

Shaw said the CDBG grant would pay for the renovation of the library’s rear entrance for ADA accessibility — the front door, on Spring Street, sits several feet above the roadway on an elevated sidewalk and can’t be brought into compliance. Disabled parking near the rear entrance would also be added, he said.

Inside, a new “wing” would be added to the library to accommodate new, lower-height shelves and the existing book collection would be spread out. The current shelves are too high for ADA compliance, he said.

The spacing-out of the book collection would also free up room to consolidate the library’s computer lab into a single room. New lighting, floors and accessible restrooms would also be added, Shaw said.

All that depends on the CDBG award, which isn’t a sure thing, but pretty close.

Shaw said the town’s application received a high ranking when MDA judged all the entries, and the agency completed a site visit to the library last week. All that remains is for MDA to finalize its award list and send it to Gov. Phil Bryant for approval, at which point grant money will be distributed to projects statewide in order of ranking until the money runs out.

“It’s looking really good, and we’re hoping we get approved,” said Ann Clark, the town’s librarian.

Clark said between 15-20 people per day use the library, with most patrons checking out adult fiction, children’s books for Accelerated Reader programs at Wesson Attendance Center or using the computer lab.

“A lot of children don’t have books at home, and not everyone can afford to buy their books for reports and papers at schools,” she said. “And, if you live in the country, around this area a lot of homes can’t get internet access. This project will give us a lot more room and allow us to do a lot more for our patrons.”