Voters in Reedsport and Drain have decided to create their own library districts in Tuesday’s primary election.
Voters approved the Drain-area North Douglas Library District in a 76 percent to 24 percent vote, and the Reedsport-area Lower Umpqua Library District in a 57.6 percent to 42.4 percent vote, as of Wednesday morning.
Reedsport area voters decided to approve the Lower Umpqua Library District, along with a 39 cents per $1,000 property tax, and have elected Gary Goorhuis, Ronald Eberlein, Leon Bridge, Kathleen Browning and Sherril Paul as the district’s board of directors. The district will include Reedsport, Gardiner and Winchester Bay.
Ron Eberlein of Reedsport, chairman of the library advisory board, said he’s very happy with the results.
“I feel this is what’s best for the people of northern Douglas County to have a library with stable funding,” Eberlein said. He added the library will now be able to hire a full-time administrative staff member and keep on its two part-time staff members.
He said in the future, the board members are hoping to partner with other libraries, either along the coast or in Douglas County, in a library system to allow patrons to borrow books from other libraries.
The Drain-area North Douglas Library District will be funded by a 44 cents per $1,000 property tax. The district includes the entire North Douglas School District, stretching from Drain toward Elkton and Yoncalla.
The elected board of directors for the North Douglas Library District include Anne Campbell, Valarie Johns, Jerri Potter, Dana Brown-Avis and Becky Gerrard.
With victorious cheers from fellow library supporters echoing in the background, Valarie Johns, president of the Friends of Mildred Whipple Library, told The News-Review she’s really excited about the results.
“We’ve been working hard for a year, getting out in the communities and letting people know about the special district and what we plan to do and it’s really paid off,” Johns said. “The community has been really supportive all along.”
She said a summer reading program is already planned for this summer, and the board members will be working hard to get the doors open for the library, which she said also acts as the area’s senior center, teen center, visitor’s center and literacy hub.
“I’m just thrilled the community supported it to this degree,” Johns said.
The Douglas County Library System formerly included 11 branches, but the county withdrew funding for them in 2017. The Reedsport library was one of the first libraries to reopen and has kept two paid part-time staff members, while the Drain library has remained closed since April 2017.