Board to discuss WCHS donation; library hours

          A $50,000 donation to the Washington County Historical Society and a workshop on restoring some hours at Washington County Library branches highlight Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting.

Among other items on the board’s agenda are an update on Thursday’s Veterans Job Fair at the Prom Center in Oakdale from Robby Robinson, Veterans Services Officer and WorkForce Center Division Manager Robert Crawford and consideration of the county’s 2013 Minnesota High Speed Rail Commission membership.

The WCHS donation arose from a request made by society Director Brent Peterson at an Aug. 7 workshop. Peterson told commissioners then that the requested $50,000 would go toward purchase of a vacant building in the 1800 block of Greeley Street for use as the society’s office, museum and archive.

Peterson told commissioners in August that the county’s $50,000 donation would be regarded as a matching grant to other donations from charitable groups to the WCHS toward purchasing the Greeley Street property.

At that August workshop, Peterson told commissioners that the historical society has pledges from several area foundations for grants to buy the Greeley Street site.

One of the conditions the WCHS must meet to receive the county funds is securing $795,000 in pledges and donations and letters of support from other historical societies in the county.

The board will make the county’s money available to the WCHS after a purchase agreement is executed and the society must buy the Greeley Street site by June 30. If the society does not buy the building, it must repay the county grant.

County administrators said the grant funds would come from the county’s Contingency Fund.

Following their regular meeting, commissioners will meet with WCL Executive Director Patricia Conley and her staff and furhter discuss a proposal to restore one day of service at WCL branches.

All WCL branches have been closed Sunday and Monday since Jan. 2 after the Lake Elmo City Council voted to set up its own city-run library and pull the city’s library levy from WCL.

Commissioners will discuss three options: open all WCL library branches from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Mondays at a cost of $260,000; add Monday hours of 12:30 to 5 p.m. at Stafford, Hardwood Creek and Park Grove branches at a cost of $140,000, or maintain the current schedule.

During the WCL budget presentation to the board earlier this year, Conley said library staff developed its hours options based on the assumptions that the options were acceptable to the public and elected officials and affordable to operate.

She adds that any option must maintain WCL service levels that include returning books and items to shelves in three days to cut waiting times; getting new materials to shelves in 30 days to meet demand, and minimize waiting times and lines.

Conley also said service considerations in the WCL hours proposals include maintaining current partnerships with the city of Woodbury; MELSA programs at all branches and county services in Forest Lake.

During the WCL’s budget presentation to the board, county administrators told commissioners there was money in the 2012 budget to restore Monday hours at library branches in October if that was something the board wanted to do.