April 01, 2023

Creston library shows interest in outdoor facility

Gibson Memorial Library Director Gabriel Chrisman requested $34,000, an increase of $1,000, from the Union County Board of Supervisors Monday as part of the county’s fiscal year 2024 budget. Supervisors did not take any action. Supervisor Dennis Brown was not in attendance.

Supporters of the library have been raising funds and researching where the library could build new and locate as its facility at East Howard and North Maple has inefficiencies. With construction costs more than what the library is comfortable with pursuing, Chrisman said efforts are being shifted to some kind of structure on the vacant lot south of the library.

He said reviews are being made of an outdoor canopy-like structure large enough to hold events. He said Clarinda’s library opened a similar facility a few years ago and has been used for various events plus a public place for residents. Chrisman was not definite with costs, but estimated $132,000. In addition to the outdoor space, Chrisman said some minor remodeling within the library can create additional meeting space for small groups.

Chrisman said the annual contribution from the county can be used to cover a variety of operations. He said the library began a information technology contract after it’s budget last year was already approved. The agreement, which was a spinoff of the city of Creston’s contract, cost $14,000 plus additional fees and that were not accounted for. Further review showed one program was not compatible with library functions and the city has since changed information technology services.

Chrisman said other needs are a new air conditioning unit, computer upgrades and a remodel of a stairway.

In other county news...

Union County Auditor Mindy Schaefer showed the supervisors last week of the additions to Beacon, the county’s portion of its website about real estate and property. Last year, supervisors approved to add additional features to the website.

Beacon can be found on the Union County website www.unioncountyiowa.gov by clicking on the Real Estate and GIS Mapping tab. Users can search for a specific property. There are more options to learn about properties.

Schaefer said one of the changes is a new section that breaks down tax distribution from each property. It shows the taxes and how much each entity recieves. A pie chart gives the amounts a visual.

The tax estimator shows what a property owner will pay in taxes with a new house, garage or other new addition. An estimated value of the facility is needed to determine the tax value.

A sales-related questionnaire is another new function that will be used by Schaefer and her staff but property owners can complete the questionnaire.

Property owners can also view comparable properties. Users can select a property then add a comparable search with a form. Users can list criteria to find similar homes and how they are assessed. A sales search will display parcels sold within the search criteria specified.

Schaefer said other options will help her and her work more than the typical resident.

Cost for the additions and first year fee was $11,247. The annual fee is $4,728. Supervisors used some of the county’s America Rescue funds.

John Van Nostrand


An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.