Jesse White awards Marengo-Union Library grant for new space

MARENGO – Secretary of State Jesse White on Tuesday handed Marengo-Union Library officials a life-sized check for more than $543,000 that will help officials remodel a larger facility off Grant Highway.

Standing inside the current library along Marengo's downtown, White commended the local library officials for wanting a better facility that will provide needed services to students, senior citizens and the unemployed who often rely on libraries for resources.

"A lot of these communities have a need to expand, to grow, to have a better quality facility," White said. "This community, with its expanding population, wanted a better facility to respond to the people's needs within the community."

White's office, which manages the state's library system, doled out $50 million in grant money this year to 20 libraries throughout Illinois, including Marengo-Union, to assist with major construction and remodeling needs.

The $50 million for libraries was a one-time appropriation included in the state's $31 billion capital construction program, which is funding various infrastructure projects from money raised through newly legalized video gaming.

The $543,715 from the state will help the Marengo-Union Library renovate the former Miceli drapery plant at 19714 E. Grant Highway. Using its existing budget, the library bought the plant for $1.2 million.

Library officials now will transform roughly 20,000 square feet of the former plant into their new home, Library Director Mary Hanson said. The new space is three times the library's existing space along State Street in Marengo.

On Tuesday, Hanson credited the Marengo-Union Library Board for making the project a reality. Board President Jude Schmidt, state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, and state Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, were on hand for the award ceremony.

Marengo Mayor Don Lockhart and Union Village President Robert Wagner also were present.

"I like to give special thanks to our library board, who had the vision to see the need for a larger facility to provide services within our existing budget," Hanson said.

Back in his hometown, Franks lauded local officials for developing the project and White for investing resources into the state's libraries.

"I want to say how proud I am to be a Marengoian today," Franks said. "This took a lot of guts. This was a big thing for the community."

The library board formally accepted the grant money earlier this year. Officials hope to have construction completed by the first quarter of 2014.

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