Jefferson County in Mississippi, a rural county with a population of almost 10,000, was the site of an event last week commemorating a USDA Rural Development Community Facilities grant and loan combination that will bring a modern, state-of-the-art library to that county.
“This project will do so much more than create jobs,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Trina N. George to a crowd of over 100 local leaders and citizens gathered in Fayette, the county seat. “It will create enrichment for many lives. It will serve as a common area for all in this community – a place where students can learn, where grown folks can meet, and where local entrepreneurs can research their next business.”
“In my younger days, I’d be starting to break dance about now,” said Jefferson County Administrator Brenda Buck as she introduced State Director George. Buck’s comment reflected the excitement that was in the air as the dream of a new library for Jefferson County took a large step closer to reality. Buck and the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors had worked closely with Ms. George and USDA Rural Development for over a year to find funding for this project, and that work paid off with a grant of $200,000 and a loan of $261,000 that came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“This library is needed in Jefferson County and in Fayette, and we at USDA Rural Development are proud to be a part of making it happen,” said George.
A number of rural communities in Mississippi received funding for new libraries or for renovation of existing libraries. Awareness of the availability of the money for libraries was enhanced by a USDA Rural Development outreach effort in Mississippi lead by State Director George and culminating in a briefing to the Mississippi Library Commission.
State Director George acknowledged the work of Congressman Bennie Thompson in guiding the applicants to the funding, and also pointed out that the source of the funds was the Recovery Act of 2009, signed by President Obama. She also mentioned the special interest that Secretary Vilsack has in rural libraries.