Chase Library receives $5,000 donation

CHASE TWP. — For the moment, it appears Chase Township Public Library’s financial woes have taken a turn for the better.

On July 10, during a joint meeting of the library board and the township board, it was announced that the library received a $5,000 donation from Reed City Tool. Coupled with the money the library has raised thus far, the donation helps the library met its goal of raising $7,600 before the end of the fiscal year in March.

“We were feeling really good because we had accomplished so much in such a small time,” said library Director Roxanne Ware, who was unaware of the donation before its announcement. “Then for them to step up and bring the $5,000, I’ll honestly say it brought tears to my eyes because people really do care and people are really trying to come together.”

In May, the Chase Township Board tasked the library with raising $7,600 to balance its budget. While preparing the current fiscal year’s budget, the township board realized it could not support both the fire service contract and library at the same level it had in the past due to dwindling revenue. Instead of providing $15,000 to the library’s $25,000 budget like it usually does, the township only committed $10,000.

Through various fundraisers and another generous donation by the family of R.G. Vanderhoof, the library had raised $4,400 to date. With the Reed City Tool donation — which is intended only for library operations — the library has more than enough money to eliminate this year’s deficit.

As a Lake County resident, Rod Weck — president, CEO and owner of Reed City Tool — was aware of the library’s trouble. Although he does not live in Chase Township, he does attend a church in Chase. He has donated to the Reed City area before but never to Lake County, and he thought now would be a perfect time to.

“One of the gentlemen that goes to our church, the library is a very important part of his life,” Weck said. “I just wanted to do that for him, and of course the kids. There is so much information for Chase, Pinora townships, and I’m sure others, stored at that library that we need to keep it open.”

Although the donation makes it possible for the library to operate throughout the fiscal year, the library’s financial troubles aren’t over yet, Ware said. Over the past five years, the library has lost half the revenue it used to receive from sources like penal fines and state aid. That is common for other libraries as well, Ware added.

To make sure the library stays open beyond March, Ware and library volunteers plan to continue fundraising. However, township residents will have a chance to fully fund both the library and fire services contract through millages that will be put to a vote next month. A .25-mil millage is proposed to fund the library and a .75-mil millage is proposed for the fire services contract.

Having the millage pass isn’t a sure thing though. During township board meetings, residents often got in heated exchanges over the idea of the millages. Ware, however, sees the support of fundraisers and donations as a promising sign.

“It’s just really nice to see people come forth (to support the library),” Ware said. “You have people speaking negative: ‘Nobody is out there. Nobody is using the library. Nobody wants that library there.’ But people are really coming forward and putting an effort into keeping the library.”

The library still is accepting donations and is currently holding a fundraiser by collecting pop cans and bottles. On Wednesday, the library will hold a fundraiser at Buffalo Wild Wings in Big Rapids. When a certificate is presented at the restaurant, 20 percent of the purchase will go toward the library. The certificates are circulating on Facebook, Ware said, but also are available at the library.

For more information about the library’s fundraising efforts, call (231) 832-9511.