Supporters of Burney Library move await ShasCo BOS’s approval

BURNEY — After years of planning, fundraising, and hard work spearheaded by Friends of the Intermountain Libraries Inc., the tiny mountain community of Burney could soon see the town’s small library move from its current, one-room location on Siskiyou St. to a newer, more modern, and much larger building, centrally located downtown on Main St.

The decision whether or not to proceed with the proposed project is now in the hands of Shasta County Board of Supervisors, who are reviewing a “very detailed package” provided to Board members by FOIL. Although the Board has not yet put FOIL’s presentation on their agenda, FOIL’s president, Patricia Pell, is confident that in spite of ongoing delays, the town’s new library “will happen this year.”

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Opened in 1949 as the first of the Shasta County Library Branches, the one-room building that currently houses the library was later built in 1969.

Despite its diminutive size, Burney Library does not just serve the town’s fewer than 3,200 residents, but serves the entire Intermountain area; including nearby Johnson Park, as well as Montgomery Creek and Round Mountain to the west and Fall River Mills and McArthur to the east.

Although small, the current Burney Library still offers all the benefits of a bigger facility “but in a condensed, very approachable form.”

Although small, Burney Library’s current building still offers all the benefits of a bigger facility “but in a condensed, very approachable form,” according to Shasta Public Libraries. The location features four internet-accessible computers, wi-fi service, a reference section, a “vast collection” of videos and DVDs, and a “well-stocked” books area.

However, the existing 1,800 square-foot building lacks such basics as air conditioning, adequate seating, and secluded spaces for private meetings; and supporters of the proposed move say the current library’s “age, size and design … severely limits its ability to effectively meet the needs of the community.”

The new 4,300 square foot building, which used to be a physical therapy office, is more than twice the size of the existing building and would allow the much-needed expansion of the library’s list of available books, while offering more space for visitors as well as library sponsored programs.

FOIL formed to save Burney Library after 1989 budget crisis

FOIL was formed in 1989 after a funding crisis permanently closed ten of Shasta County’s libraries, according to the organization’s website.

“In order to keep the doors open the Burney Friends group entered into an agreement with Shasta County to pay part of its operating expenses,” FOIL’s website explains. Over a 17-year period FOIL raised more than $150,000 for the Burney Library and continues its fundraising to purchase new books, supplies, and other necessary materials for the library.

A young Friends Main Street Books volunteer enthusiastically shows off books, which range from about $1 to $5. All proceeds go to Burney Library.

Additionally, thanks to “the generosity of one of its supporters,” FOIL has a permanent storefront in Burney at Main and Tamarack that it uses as a bookstore. Featuring “thousands of quality fiction and nonfiction books for adults and children,” Friends Main Street Books is staffed by volunteers both young and old, and all proceeds from book and other sales are donated to the Burney Library.

Proposed move now in the hands of County Supervisors

Pell recently explained that Shasta County’s proposed $400,000 grant comes from the Hatchet Ridge Community Benefit Fund. However, as a condition of the as-yet unused 11-year-old grant, FOIL and the community were required to raise about $100,000 to match the money the board set aside for the project.

Now that FOIL has secured the funds they were required to raise, the Board of Supervisors’ approval is needed before the grant funds that were earmarked for the new library more than a decade ago can finally be released.

Shasta County’s Board of Supervisors are soon expected to decide whether or not to move forward with a proposal that would move Burney Library to a much newer, larger, and better equipped location in downtown Burney.

In addition to the $400,000 Hatchet Ridge grant, other backers and contributors to the library project include the Rotary Club of Burney and the Northern California District Rotary, which together granted $25,000 to be earmarked for a “children’s corner” in the new library building, according to Pell.

Additionally, the McConnell Foundation earlier this month approved a grant of “up to $100,000 in the event they find that there’s a shortfall to make the transaction,” Shannon Phillips, McConnell’s chief operating officer, recently told Record Searchlight.

“Typically, when we get involved in capital projects, we’re the last dollars in,” Phillips explained. “We like to look for strong community support that exists prior to us getting involved. We assured them that we’re here when it all comes together.”

Pell recently updated on social media, “We have funding, which is of prime concern to everybody. Support is very strong and funding is in place.”

“Backed by your pledges, donations and support, which I believe will convince (the board) to release the $400,000 they have set aside from the Hatchet Ridge Windmill money, we have enough money to complete renovations and finally relocate to a much newer, more than twice the space building,” Pell also wrote, while thanking area residents for their continued “support and patience.”

Despite the ongoing delays, Pell has said she is “hopeful and confident” FOIL’s final presentation will be placed on the Board’s March Agenda. “As soon as a date is set, you’ll hear about it here, and ‘from the rooftops’,” Pell enthused on FOIL’s Facebook page.

“It’s time to see this much-needed and very important project move forward.”

Area residents overwhelmingly support the proposed move with many commenting about the need for a larger, more modern, and better equipped library to meet the needs of the Intermountain area’s growing communities.

Asked about the library’s proposed move, Johnson Park resident and Burney Elementary second-grade teacher Joy Ford expressed excitement and anticipation for a bigger and better equipped library.

Saying how important it is to get younger students excited about reading, Ford said the new location will better facilitate “walking field trips” for her students while offering a larger selection of books in a more modern facility.

“I really hope the County’s Board of Supervisors will approve the proposed project soon,” Ford told SCNS.

After hearing the Board could place FOIL’s final presentation on March’s upcoming agenda, Burney resident Linda Murray expressed her excitement and support, writing on social media, “Having a bigger more accessible library that benefits everyone in our Intermountain community will be so awesome!!!”

Long-time Burney resident, avid reader, and regular library visitor, Pam Lyerla also said she “strongly supports” the move, and recently told SCNS she thinks “it’s fantastic” that Burney Library could soon move to a larger, more modern, and better equipped location.

“I think it’s so important for communities to have access to a good library,” Lyerla explained. “Plus, the new location will be so much easier to access, right in the middle of town.”

“I love to read but I can’t always afford to buy books, so the library is a great option,” Lyerla continued. “Plus the library has computers and other features that aren’t available anywhere else. So I hope (the Board of Supervisors) make their decision soon.”

Another area resident, Joel Havisol echoed the others’ sentiments, telling SCNS, “This wouldn’t just be good for Burney residents, this would benefit the entire area.”

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this to happen,” Havisol continued. “It’s time to see this much-needed and very important project finally move forward.”

Burney’s Friends of the Intermountain Libraries’ members and supporters meet on the first Thursday of every month at 2 p.m., in the current Burney Library, at 37038 Siskiyou St. To learn more about FOIL and how you can become involved or help, visit them online or on Facebook.

Friends Main Street Books is open every Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or by appointment. Call the Library for more information at (530) 335-4317 or visit their Facebook page for more information.


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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