Budget requests continue to roll in during weekly meetings of the Union County Board of Supervisors.
Gibson Memorial Library Director David Hargrove gave an update on how the library benefited from the county’s contribution last year and made the same budget request for the coming year.
“We’re very grateful for what you have done,” Hargrove said. “As the guy who’s in charge of making the most of what we get, I can tell you last year’s increase was a real godsend.”
Hargrove said the $33,000 the county provided towards the library’s operating budget saved them from having to decide between repairs and new materials.
“That enabled us to meet some unforeseen costs,” Hargrove said. “We had a fire alert panel go out. We had some windows broken. We were able to do all that and still have new books on the shelf.”
Three years ago, Hargrove said, the county was in the low range of contribution per capita, but the increase last year put them more in the middle. At supervisor Dennis Brown’s request, Hargrove will provide the board with the amounts some of the nearby counties give to their libraries. Hargrove explained that these numbers vary based on population and number of public libraries in the county.
With the changing times, more patrons use the library as a source of free and reliable internet connection. The library’s Iowa Communications Network connection has remained active even when local Mediacom and Windstream were out.
Hargrove said one of his main goals in the next few years is to double the speed of the library’s connection.
“I think that’s probably ... the number one service we provide that folks know if they need to get access to the internet,” Hargrove said, “Those are the kinds of things I think are most important in our mission going forward.”
In addition to patrons using the internet, Hargrove said it is an integral part of how the library operates, from circulation to ordering new materials.
“Everything we do is affected by that as a staff so that’s an important objective,” Hargrove said.
Connections Area Agency on Aging
Kelly Butts-Ellston with Connections Area Agency on Aging requested $11,670 from Union County — the same amount as last year — in a phone conference with the supervisors Monday.
She said the case management and calls for information numbers have increased dramatically with case management more than doubling from seven in FY 2018 to15 in FY 2019 and informational calls jumping from 12 to 129.
“We’re very pleased that the word is getting out that we’re a resource and a place to start for service navigation when people are aging and they need services,” Butts-Ellston said.
Butts-Ellston reported a decrease in the use of congregate meals in Creston with an increase in home delivered meals. She explained that decrease may be due to the “newly eligible” working longer rather than retiring at age 65 and cultural shift where gathering to socialize has partially been replaced by the internet.
Connections has made some changes to the congregate meal program over the last year to try to attract the younger seniors. Butts-Ellston said that the agency has added a soup and sandwich option on Tuesdays that seems to be gaining popularity.
If this change continues to be popular, they may add others such as a potato bar and/or a salad option.
Transportation usage increased this year, Butts-Ellston said, going from 11,675 one-way trips to 12,509 in 2019. Each leg of an outing counts as a one-way trip, so a visit to a store, a hair appointment and then returning home would add three trips to the total.
Butts-Ellston said Connections is in the process of replacing their marketing position.
“We feel like having that third person to do some additional marketing and getting public awareness was what kind of spiked our information and assistance numbers,” Butts-Ellston said.