Fort Chiswell is one step closer to having a library that will be named after community leader and former Wythe County Supervisor Joe Hale.
On Thursday, Friends of the Fort Chiswell Library, Inc. received a donation of $40,000 that will be combined with $14,000 the group has already raised. The money will help the group get a jumpstart on buying the former First Community Bank location, where the library will be housed.
Hale was on hand for the check presentation and was surprised when he found out the library’s name.
“It certainly was the most humbling thing that has ever happened to me and certainly not expected,” he said. “I hope it (the library) will help. I hope it gets good internet and make computers available for people who don’t have them available.”
The bank building is an ideal location for the library because it is in the heart of Fort Chiswell, across from the high school, said Tony Stroupe, president of the Friends of the Fort Chiswell Library. There is also a strong internet connect at the site, located at the corner of state routes 52 and 94.
Stroupe said the Fort Chiswell area needs a library because residents in that part of the county – about 10,000 people – have to travel either to Wytheville, Hillsville or Pulaski to visit a library to read, research or work on a computer.
“If you want to go to Wytheville, you have to drive 20 or 30 miles,” he said.
Other members of the Friends group are Earle Libby, vice president; Terry Clewlow, secretary/treasurer; and directors Tina Quesenberry, Frances Watson and Joe Hale. The move to create a library in Fort Chiswell started at the beginning of the year, but was stalled a bit thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
The group, which is not affiliated with any local government or public entity, has filed for nonprofit status and is awaiting confirmation.
Thursday’s donation came from the RCI-IIBEC Foundation, which was established in 2001. The foundation’s mission is to support research, education, and the dissemination of information for issues important to the building enclosure industry.
The RCI-IIBEC Foundation and RCI Foundation Canada collaborated to recognize Hale, said Rick Gardner, foundation development officer. Hale is now a director emeritus with the foundation, a past IIBEC president (IIBEC stands for International Institute for Building Enclosure Consultants), and an IIBEC Fellow. He helped create the Roofing Consultants Institute Foundation in 2001 which evolved into the current RCI-IIBEC Foundation.
Hale recently stepped down from his position as chair of the RCI-IIBEC Foundation. In honor of him, the foundations chose to donate $40,000 to the Friends of Fort Chiswell Library, a project to which Hale already donates his time and money, Gardner said.
“Joe has done a lot for each one of us as a mentor, as a friend and as a colleague. A lot of people wanted to both honor him and show how much he has meant to them,” Gardner said. “The foundations hope to further help this project and continue to honor Mr. Hale with an additional $40,000 from individual IIBEC members, friends of Hale and corporate donations.”
Even with the donations, the Friends of the Library still has a lot of money to raise; Stroupe estimates that the group needs about $100,000 just to get started.
“With $100,000 we can make the deal for the building and start making payments on what we need,” he said, adding that the bank has given them to the end of the year to make a down payment on the property.
“We will get a loan for the rest of it,” he said.
However, to get everything up and running, it will cost about $1 million, Stroupe said, adding that once the Friends of the Fort Chiswell Library is classified as a nonprofit, the group can start applying for grants.
Until the group is recognized as a nonprofit, HOPE Inc. is acting as its fiscal agent. To donate, visit online at www.wythehope.org and hit the orange “Donate Now” link on the top right hand of the page. There is a drop-down box to click for Friends of the Fort Chiswell Library.
“Andy will give us that money as needed to pay for things,” Stroupe said.
“If anyone wants to donate, anything they want to give us before the end of the year is greatly appreciated” he said.
The Friends of the Fort Chiswell Library were happy to name the library for Hale, Stroupe said, because he has been a big force behind the effort to land a library. Hale was elected to serve as a Wythe County supervisor in 2011 and served two terms.
“We want this to be something that lasts,” Stroupe said. “We want it to grow. We want it to be here after we are all dead and gone. We want it to be here for many generations.”
To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 35, or email firstname.lastname@example.org