Garrison eyes new library in continued storm recovery - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Garrison eyes new library in continued storm recovery

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GARRISON (KWWL) -

Parts of eastern Iowa continue to recover following last summer's massive wind storm.  That July storm packed winds of more than 100 miles an hour, leaving a path of destruction through Tama and Benton Counties.  Damage was seen from Gladbrook to Vinton.  Now, people in Garrison are coming together to save their library.

The Garrison Public Library is missing its entire second level as it was blown away during last July's wind storm.  The main level appears almost in-tact from the outside.  But the interior tells a different story.  It's stained and rotted from rain water.

"This seemed like the nail in the coffin for the library, this storm damage.  But we're committed to having a library in Garrison because we can't let the kids down," said Christy Leckband with the Garrison Library Board.

In fact, kids are part of what's kept the library alive in the town of 371.  After the storm, they've continued coming to the library after school, at its temporary home.  A handful of library books, DVDs, and computers are now kept in a storage room of Garrison's Lutheran Church.  But in the long term, the library board wants to see a brand new building take shape, at the former site of the Old Creamery Theatre.

"It's a simple, rectangular building. And it would have a walk out basement so that the basement could be used for community functions, possibly even a storm shelter, and then the upper story could be our library," said Leckband.

A new space is seen as vital for keeping important community history under one roof.

"We had the Garrison alumni school records.  We had the cemetery records.  And a lot of those date back to the previous century," said Leckband.

Right now, those documents are being store in homes throughout the community.  And most of the library's book collection is in a warehouse. 

The biggest challenge in building a new library is raising the money to make it happen.  Insurance will only cover about half the cost.

"We're hoping to get some grant money, some donations, and make it happen that way," Leckband said.

The library board is optimistic and hopes by coming together, the small community can create a new library that will help keep local history and education alive for years to come.

The library board is planning to hold a fundraising soup supper next month.  Money raised will be matched by Thrivent Financial.  Donations for the new library project can be sent to Farmers Savings Bank & Trust in Vinton, c/o Garrison Library Rebuilding Fund, 401 B Avenue, Vinton IA 52349.

In neighboring Tama County, Union Grove State Park suffered extensive damage in last summer's storm.  An estimate 3,000 trees were lost.  An anonymous donor has now come forward, issuing a $5,000 matching grant challenge.  Trees Forever is working to raise the additional $5,000 to help replant lost trees.  Donation to support those efforts can be sent to "Union Grove State Park Recovery Fund" c/o Trees Forever, 770 7th Ave., Marion IA 52302.

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