MURRAY – After the Calloway County Public Library Board of Trustees received a lower interest rate than expected on the bonds issued for its current expansion project, the project appears to off to a good start. 

After Tuesday’s monthly board meeting, Board Treasurer Vonnie Hays-Adams told the Ledger & Times that before the bond for the expansion construction was bid out, the library’s estimated annual payment was presented to the board at a 2.08% interest rate. It is a 25-year bond, so the estimated annual payment was $296,060. She said the board was hoping the bid might still come in under 2%, but it turned out even better than the trustees had hoped.

“The actual sale of the bonds interest rate came in lower at 1.92%,” Hays-Adams said. “This difference will lower our annual payment to around $291,000. So the $5,000 in interest saved annually over the 25 years of the loan is a savings of approximately $125,000, which is a significant savings for the project.”

Hays-Adams also said that if the board is able to make larger principal payments throughout the loan term, the library may be able to save more interest by paying off the loan sooner. She also noted that if the same project had started in 2016, when it was originally proposed, the interest rate would have been much higher. She said the estimated annual payment in 2016 would have been around $312,000. 

“So overall, as things have turned out, the five-year wait may have, in the end, been worth it in this respect,” she said after the meeting. 

Chris Cottongim, president of 5253 Design Group, gave an update on the expansion project, saying construction is going well so far. He said his firm has been pro-active about getting shop drawings in early from vendors so items can be ordered as quickly as possible.

“As far as construction goes, our cut and fill operations and ground mass excavations are probably about 95% done,” Cottongim said. “We’ve installed the new sprinkler supply line below the drive. We’ve got our new water supply line also installed and the electrical supply conduits running to where they’re going to be in the future. We’ve also installed a sleeve for the gas line for when it comes time (to put in the line). All stormwater retention basins have been installed, and you can see that.”

Bill Adams Construction is the general contractor on the project. Cottongim said workers had also run conduits for electrical lighting and are close to finishing Phase I of construction. With Phase II, the library’s current main entrance on the east side will close as demolition begins on that side. Library Director Mignon Reed said that at that time, library patrons will drive through the parking lot next to the WATCH Center to get to the other side of the building and enter through the door on the west side.

“We’ll do some concrete curbs for a little bit of Phase I, install a new concrete entrance on Main Street, pave the drive and get that all ready for you to be open,” Cottongim told the board. “So you would still come off of Main, come around the edge of the construction zone and park.”

Right now, Cottongim said he is waiting for the final steel shop drawings.

“That’s a big-ticket order and it’s a big timing issue, because we don’t want to start (demolishing) and building foundations if we don’t think we’ll get our steel (right away) to go right on top of it,” he said. “We don’t want a big delay in our construction time, so we should know that real soon, and we’ll probably get those processed and moved along.”

The board also voted to pay its first bills related to the expansion.

In other business:

• In her director’s report, Reed said Calloway County Judge-Executive Kenny Imes told her he would be nominating people at next week’s fiscal court meeting to fill the board’s two current vacancies. The two expired seats are currently occupied by Board President Riley Ramsey and Debbie Bell, who have remained in their seats while waiting for the nomination process to play out. In addition to Ramsey and Bell, former board chair Nancy Mieure also applied, Reed said.

• The board unanimously approved Reed’s request for the library to observe Juneteenth, which became a federal holiday last year. The next Juneteenth will be Sunday, June 19, 2022. Before the vote, Trustee Levi Weatherford confirmed with Reed that it would mean a paid day off for staff.

• John Fuqua, who lives next door on Olive Street and recently sold a plot of land to the library, said he wanted to install a fence along the property line on top of a retaining wall that was built 12 years ago. He said he wanted to be a good neighbor and make sure the board was OK with his specific plans. The board voted to approve Fuqua’s plan.

• Friends of the Calloway County Public Library President Georgena Taylor said the group recently held its first used book sale since December 2019 and raised more than $1,000. She said that was impressive because the sale was only five hours, but that was about how much the group usually raised with a three-day sale.