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$11.6 million grant check presented to DeKalb library

Published: Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 1:36 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 11:06 p.m. CST
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Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com Assistant City Manager Rudy Espiritu speaks at the DeKalb Public Library. Secretary of State Jesse White presented the library with an $11.6 million grant check for expansion.

DeKALB – Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White visited the DeKalb Public Library Monday morning – with a big $11.6 million check in hand.

A number of local officials turned up for a ceremony to welcome White and accept the Public Library Construction Act Grant, which will help with the library's $24 million remodeling and expansion project. To secure the grant, which was used to acquire land for the expansion, the city was required to raise $12.2 million in matching funds.

The city of DeKalb borrowed $6.5 million, along with providing $2 million in tax increment financing funds. The library is borrowing $2.8 million, which board members expect to repay in two years through local fundraising efforts. The library also chipped in $900,000 from its reserves.

White thanked the community for making the expansion possible.

"Thank you for being good neighbors and looking to your future," White said.

And to the Jefferson Elementary School students in the front row, he said, "Boys and girls, be the best you can be."

One of those students, Emily Overton quoted Albert Einstein during her comments on how important the library is to a community.

"Albert Einstein said, 'The only thing you absolutely need to know is the location of the library,' " Overton said.

State Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley, said DeKalb was one of 47 libraries competing for state funds.

"Raising the funds needed in the allotted time would not have been possible without the local commitment," Pritchard said.

The project includes $4 million to renovate the existing building to make it handicapped accessible; and a 46,000-square-foot, three-story addition and expanded parking.

The board has hired American City Bureau, a professional fundraising team; Owner Services Group to represent the library; Chicago architects Nagle Hartray Architects to design the building; and Pepper Construction to build the addition.

Construction of the expansion is expected to begin in March, with the building scheduled to open to the public in July 2015. The renovations are planned to begin after the expansion is complete. The entire project is targeted for completion by March 2016.

Frank Roberts, president of Castle Bank, spoke on behalf of the library's financial partners Castle Bank, NB&T and Resource Bank.

"I'm going off script here even though I was told not to do that," Roberts said. "But [library director] DeeCoover is a true community treasure. She is irrepressible and tenacious.

" 'No' was not an option," Roberts said.

After the morning ceremony in DeKalb, White, Pritchard and other state officials traveled to Sandwich to award a grant of nearly $1.6 million to the Sandwich District Library for construction of a new 17,226-square-foot building to replace the current library. The new library will provide accessibility for patrons with disabilities and address the needs of a growing community.

DeKalb Public Library expansion funding:

• State grant: $11.6 million • City bonds: $6.5 million • Bank loans: $2.8 million • DeKalb TIF funds: $2 million • Library reserves: $900,000

What's next

Construction of the expansion is scheduled to begin in March, with the building expected to open to the public in July 2015.

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