WILMINGTON — The law library board has proposed the library’s main room stay as a place for resource materials, and not be used as a space to store elections equipment.
The talk during the library board chairman’s and librarian’s meeting Wednesday with county commissioners ultimately, however, took a path that led one commissioner to apologize to the library officials for having to sit through verbal discord among the commissioners.
Clinton County Law Library Resources Board Chair Brian A. Shidaker told commissioners the board members “felt very strongly” that the main room should not be used as a storage room.
“To use that for storage really put a bad taste in the board members’ mouths, to be quite honest,” Shidaker said.
The main reason, he elaborated, is “as a taxpayer” when one looks at the value of the historical courthouse and the money that’s been put into it, it is questionable “to use that square footage for storage.”
Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed then said the room and its upper mezzanine currently is being used to store law books “which are never used.”
Shidaker acknowledges many of the books are no longer needed on-site. He said the board’s proposal is to remove about half of the book shelves and do a remodel, making the space “much more user friendly.”
He said the main room is a beautiful room, and a remodel could open up the space for anybody to go and utilize.
“Is it the best plan in the world? Maybe not, but it’s in our minds sure a lot better use of space than to store equipment in, and to keep secure and locked from the public,” said Shidaker. Elections equipment, of course, has to be kept from possible tampering.
The county is required to have a law library, though it does not have to be in the courthouse, said Shidaker, a licensed attorney.
Law Librarian Martha Worstine said that when the courthouse was built, the main room was designated as a library.
“I think it should remain a library; it needs to be preserved,” she said.
After Clinton County Commissioner Patrick Haley said he is against storing equipment there, Steed said Haley’s comment was inconsistent with an earlier discussion in which the commissioners ranked options for how to best use space.
Haley said if his opposition to storing equipment was not reflected in the earlier ranking process, then he misunderstood the format at the time “because that is not the position I take.”
He said his first impression when going to the library and looking around was that the equipment storage option “might be able to work. But [later] as I thought about this seriously, no, I don’t think it will, I think it’s foolish, so I’m not jumping back and forth.”
Steed said, “It just seems like you flip-fl0p back and forth on your positions.”
Haley responded, “I’m not flip-flopping. You’re trying to characterize that. I’m not flip-flopping and I resent it.”
Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods, a short while later, said she has to agree with Steed regarding the commissioners’ earlier discussion. She said commissioners spent hours trying to keep things moving on the question of how best to utilize available county-owned space, but they’re still no further with the Board of Elections.
Toward the end of the appointment, Woods said to Shidaker and Worstine, “I for one apologize that you were in the middle of that; I’m sorry. That’s not what I intended and that’s not what I intend when people come before us that we voice our frustrations amongst ourselves.”
In other business at the commissioners office:
• Haley said he would like for a more specific policy when it comes to travel requests made by county staff to travel to and participate in work seminars. The travel requests seek authorization from the commissioners to spend certain amounts to cover expenses on those trips — things such as mileage, seminar registration, meals or lodging.
• Commissioners proclaimed April 16 through 22 as “Advance Directives Week.” Advance directives include legal avenues regarding medical treatment for people unable to communicate. Those things include the living will and the durable power of attorney for health care.
The proclamation states: “Advance directives help remove the questions that occur when patients are not able to speak for themselves and help assure that a person’s wishes are followed.”
• Commissioners will hold a dual business meeting with Blanchester Village Council on the evening of Thursday, May 25 at the Blanchester Municipal Building. Commissioners are trying to “go on the road” once a month to increase interaction with township trustees and village councils — and the constituents of those political subdivisions — within the county.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.