Marion County makes changes to library board

Marion County makes changes to library board

May 28th, 2012 by Ryan Lewis in News

Kimball City Attorney and Marion County Attorney Billy Gouger

Photo by Ryan Lewis

JASPER, Tenn. -- When Marion County began the transition into a new region of state library administration, officials discovered they weren't in compliance with the laws regarding appointments to the library board.

Ralph Chapin, chairman of the Marion County Library Board, said the move into the Stone's River library administration region will be final on July 1.

"In the process of this move, we have learned that each mayor of a municipality that has a library within its boundaries can appoint one member to the library board," he said.

County Attorney Billy Gouger said he and County Mayor John Graham started looking into the matter a couple of months ago and discovered the county was not following state law.

"We've never complied with that law," he said. "It's nothing that the library board has done. It's just that for years, our process for appointing board members and replacement board members appears to not have followed the law."

During his investigation, Gouger said one state library official described Marion County as an entity that has "always done its own thing."

That portrayal did not sit well with county leaders.

"This will kind of give us a fresh start," Graham said. "We need to pursue this and make sure we're in compliance with the law."

"We don't want to start out in a new [administrative] region with an asterisk by our name that says we're not following the law," Gouger said.

Chapin said the appointment changes will make the board stronger, and there is no expenditure for the county because library board members are not paid.

"This will not reduce the members each town has," he said. "It will increase the size of the library board by three."

Whitwell already has appointed Linda Hooper as the newest member of the library board under the new guidelines, officials said.

Chapin said he has not heard from Jasper or South Pittsburg officials about additional appointments, but "Tennessee code says they can do that."

"I think this will be great for the libraries," County Commission Chairman Les Price said. "I think we need to get all this lined up and talk to those mayors [about additional appointments]."