County Commission Approves Interactive System For Library

By MARK EVANS

mevans@stegenherald.com

Libraries are no longer just about books, Shawn Long reminded Ste. Genevieve County commissioners last Thursday morning.

Long, executive director of the Ste. Genevieve County Library, was reporting on the eight internet “hot spots” being set up throughout the county and was also there to request funding for a special addition at the library.

Long reported that he is working with Big River Communications in getting the eight sites installed. This will allow citizens without reliable internet at home to access it. It is primarily intended for students, who rely more and more on virtual instruction since the coming of COVID-19.

Long said that Big River is upgrading the hot spots and that they are being made as waterproof as possible for longer lifespans. He said Big River’s work in doing this  was “basically a $3,600 in-kind donation.”

Metal signs will be installed to mark the locations.

Meanwhile, Long was looking to add something for children at the library. He noted that during the pandemic, all “imaginative play objects,” toys, stuffed animals, Leggos and other items for children have had to be removed.

“Now we’re getting parents back, but there’s nothing for their kids to do,” Long said.

He suggested the library purchase a BEAM interactive projector game system. He said the equipment hangs from the ceiling and beams down an interactive game onto the floor. Beginning with games like virtual Whack-A-Mole for ages 2 and up, to games for older children, a wide array is available, including virtual coloring. The package Long wanted included 100 different games.

He has researched the options BEAM and competitors offer and suggested this package, in which the 100 games and other items are purchased outright, a “one-and-done deal,” in his words. Other options included renting various games a month at a time.

While it will be invaluable during the remainder of the pandemic, Long said it will continue to be a valuable asset after things get “normal.”

He also added that these games are especially beneficial to special needs children.

The package Long recommended was $5,600 (on sale from $10,000) and included shipping and a  two-year maintenance agreement.

Other games include football, fishing, golf, playing a piano, etc.

“It will bring people to the library and get them excited about it,” Long said. He suggested that it can also be used during the community center summer camps.

“The role of a 21st-century librarian involves more than just books,” Long said.

Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson agreed that giving children something was important.

“Everything has been upsidedown the past 10 months,” he said. “Adults like me are getting cabin fever and kids have 10 times more energy. They need to get out and stomp.”

All three commissioners agreed it would be a worthwhile purchase. It was finally decided that it will be bounced off attorney Ivan Schraeder as a possible federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security [CARES] Act purchase. If Schraeder doesn’t think it would pass muster for the CARES Act, Nelson said it could come out of the county’s infrastructure fund.

After Long left, Nelson remarked that Long “has really turned that library around.”

SKAGGS UPDATES FAIR SITUATION

Keith Skaggs, county fair board president, gave the commissioners an update on several items.

The commissioners are in the process of reviewing the lease between the county and the fair board to use the fairgrounds. Concern had been expressed about how much liability insurance the fair board carried and whether it had been renewed.

There had also been concern over whether any water might have been left on that could freeze and break pipes during the cold weather.

Skaggs assured them that everything was under control. He said the bathroom they had been concerned about is kept at 50 degrees to keep the pipes from freezing and that each section of the youth building has its own furnace, with most of it kept at 55 degrees.

The commissioners also spoke to Kim Gielow of the fair board on the phone, who assured them that the insurance was up-to-date, except for special event coverage. She said she will double check to make sure the fair itself is covered.

“We’re not trying to micromanage you,” Nelson told her. “This day and age people don’t stop suing.”

A brief discussion was held as to whether the fair board might want to incorporate or become a Limited Liability Company (LLC) to protect board members from any lawsuits.

Meanwhile, Skaggs said the bleachers are in good shape. He said they have been sealed and power washed. He said maybe 10-to-15 boards would need replacing before the hoped-for July fair.

Skaggs also wanted to discuss the possibility of having a 2021 fair. The 2020 fair was called off, due to the pandemic.

The fair board would like to have carnival rides, but refused to go along with a guaranteed fee demand by the company that brought last year’s carnival.

He said the petting zoo that was here in 2019 would be back for the fair. It will be held in tents that have already been donated.

Nelson suggested that a dunking booth might be a popular addition.