UNION — Those involved with the Union County Carnegie Library showed thanks to Sen. Harvey Peeler and Rep. Mike Anthony — whose support resulted in $1.25 million in state funding for the library — with a special reception.
On Sunday afternoon, the Friends of the Library — a group of community members who support, promote and extend the services of the Union County Carnegie Library — hosted a reception to honor Peeler and Anthony, recognizing their hard work in securing $1.25 million in state funding for library renovations.
“We were very happy with the turnout and appreciate all four members of the delegation (Peeler, Anthony, and Sens. Ronnie Cromer and Shane Martin) attending the event,” said Union County Carnegie Library Director Ben Loftis. “Sen. Peeler was very supportive in helping us develop ideas for how to raise the funds, and we especially appreciate his work in getting the funding into the budget and generating support from the Senate. We are also very appreciative of the work Rep. Anthony did championing this funding in the House. Without their hard work and support this would not have been possible. We also appreciate all that Sen. Cromer and Sen. Martin do to support libraries and their service to Union County.”
Loftis also expressed thanks for the Friends of the Library and the library board, as well as Patty Pierce — daughter of library board chair Peggy Jeter — who Loftis said guided those involved with the library through the legislative process.
In June, Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed 81 items in the state’s 2012-2013 budget, including $1.25 million allocated to Union County Carnegie Library for renovations, repairs and other improvements. The state allocation amounted to more than half the cost of the library’s ongoing efforts.
After Haley vetoed the funding, Loftis, Jeter, and Pierce went to Columbia to urge lawmakers to override the veto. In their efforts they had allies in Anthony, chairman of the Union County Legislative Delegation, and Peeler, whose district includes part of Union County.
While Anthony was in support, he said the House did not have the extra money the Senate had, but Sen. Peeler informed Loftis, Jeter and Pierce that the Senate did have additional revenues — one-time money — which could be put into the budget. Peeler was referring to some $17 million which came through unclaimed prizes in the South Carolina Education Lottery.
Anthony praised Peeler for his decision to earmark the funding for the library.
“This truly is an earmark because it is one-time money put in by Sen. Peeler,” Anthony said back in July. “He had the courage to do this because we have to put our names on earmarks. He said the Carnegie Library was a worthwhile project that needed this money to be able to sustain this facility in Union County.”
After Haley vetoed the earmark for the Carnegie Library, Anthony began to work at convincing a majority of his fellow House members to override the veto.
“I took to the floor and explained how much our library, which was named the best small library in the country in 2009, does for Union County,” Anthony said. “I explained to them how over 60,000 people had walked through its doors last year.”
Anthony also reminded fellow House members of his support of their “quality of life” projects in the past. Anthony pointed out that he supported earmarks for the green bean museum in Florence County and the Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg County, but he had never requested an earmark for Union County since he took office.
As a result, 87 of the 124 House members voted to override Haley’s veto and restore the library’s funding. The Senate also voted to override the veto, giving the library the funds for its project. Anthony again praised Peeler for having the courage to put his name on the earmark and put it forward.
Loftis said the library will receive the state funding in quarterly installments, and the first of the four has been received thus far.
“We have begun approaching several industries in regards to fund raising, but plan to increase that going forward,” Loftis said.
Loftis said he met with an architect several weeks ago to discuss ideas for the project.
“We are loosely basing the design around the plan that was presented several years ago — maybe as early as 2006 or 2007 — but our needs have changed since then,” Loftis said. “The plan should include a more official quote, which will enable us to do a better job of soliciting funds. Really, we are still pretty early in the process, though we have a very good idea of what the plan will encompass.”