KENNEDY - Kennedy Free Library patrons will soon enjoy a building of their own. After 60 years of service to the community, library officials broke ground on their own building this week.
The dream started in 1954, when women in the community decided that Kennedy should have a library. Books were collected from many donors, and a room in the Kennedy American Legion hall was used. For many years now, the library has been operating out of the lower level of the Poland Town Hall.
Three original library board members are still with the community to see their dream come true. Both Bea Cobb and Jan Rublee were present at the groundbreaking. Tim Mead, Kennedy Free Library Board of Trustees president, acknowledged the great work of these women. A round of applause was given to them.
Pictured are many of the people who have made the new library in Kennedy possible. Front row, from left: Bea Cobb and Jan Rublee. Second row: Kelly Snow, Poland supervisor; Tim Mead, library board president; Sandy Mead, leader of Friends of the Library; Kathleen Johnson, secretary of the Kennedy library board; and Larry Bourne, former library board member. Third row: Bonita Wallace, library board member; Randy Sweeney, executive director of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation; Roland Swanson, Dave Messinger and Cole Craft; Sue Abbey, library board member; and Izabela Nowak, Kennedy Free Library head librarian. Back row: Dennis Stornes, library board member; and Joe Johnson of the Lenna Foundation.
Photo by Rose Mary Carver
"It's awesome to see them be able to see this happen - something that they've had as a dream for so many years," Mead said.
Kathleen Johnson, secretary of the library board, then reiterated the thanks for those who founded the library. All the work of everyone who had helped bring the library to this momentous day was gratefully acknowledged.
So many have worked to make this dream a reality. The building site is the old Paul B.D. Temple residence land, which had been donated to the town of Poland. The town deeded that land to the library to make the building possible. Highway Department workers are digging the hole for the foundation, and will do other site work. An interesting side note is that the operator of the excavator, Mark Cobb, is the grandson of Bea Cobb, founding library board member.
So many have donated over the years to make the Kennedy Free Library a vital part of the community. Mead stated that the new building would still be a dream if it hadn't been for the generosity and foresight of one local family.
Bill and Ruth Walrod lived in the town of Poland for many years. Walrod had his own propane business, and Mrs. Walrod was a teacher in the local school system. Walrod was a World War II veteran, and never took his life for granted. Their son, Robert, said his parents' philosophy was simple. They were "very lucky to live in the U. S."
Because he had to work and support his family, Bill Walrod didn't go to college until after he retired, then went to Jamestown Community College, and took Empire State College courses. Both felt it was important to have educated people for a community, and, indeed, a country, to prosper. A good local library for all residents to have access to wide areas of knowledge mattered to them.
"Western New York was very good to Bill and Ruth Walrod," their son said. Because of this, they wanted to return the favor.
Many different educational groups benefited from their generosity. There is a scholarship at JCC because of them. They realized that Kennedy needed to have a separate building for a library, and established a fund specifically for this purpose. Stewardship of this fund over the years has provided the majority of the money used to realize the dream now.
Mead said they hoped the new library would be ready to open to the public by mid-August. While the building costs have been pretty well covered, other site work still needs to be done.
Costs for the new septic system are still not funded. Landscaping will need to be done, as well as a handicap-access ramp. When the building is in place, volunteers will be needed to paint interior walls, and to move items from the current library. If anyone would like to help, they can contact the Kennedy Free Library at 267-4265.
AGL Homes from Caledonia, N.Y., are the makers of the modular building. They took the needs of the library into consideration and designed the plans, which had to be approved by New York state. The foundation is being made by Superior Walls of Upstate New York.
Library board members look forward to having a modern building that should be an asset to the community. As much as possible, the board believes in using local companies for the new structure.
Cole Craft was awarded the contract to make furniture and shelving for the library. Their designs are crafted to stand up to heavy public use. Ridout's Heating and Cooling will install the furnace and air conditioning. Other local contractors will be doing work as well.
As president of the Kennedy Free Library Board of Trustees, Mead wanted to acknowledge the other members of the board. Sue Bennett is vice president of the board. Kathy Fischer serves as treasurer, and Kathleen Johnson as secretary. Trustees are Sue Abbey, Bea Cobb, Joy Peterson, Denny Stornes and Bonita Wallace.
Mead noted that the efforts of these people were extremely important as they reached out to the community to support the dream of a new library. Mead said that he was excited that the dream was coming true in his lifetime.