library sketch
An architect's rendering of a new library for Houston. Credit: INTEGRITY ENGINEERING

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said late last week that the Missouri Department of Economic Development will award a $900,000 grant for a new library in Houston. It is the final piece of a construction funding package undertaken by local volunteers that now totals $2.3 million, which has been raised in about six months.

The application from the Texas County Library Foundation was sponsored by the City of Houston. Parson said the project was one of 70 approved across the state under the Community Revitalization Grant Program, which is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. It is focused on communities to support their local priorities, encourage economic recovery and resilience for the future.

“We’re excited to announce these significant investments through the Community Revitalization Grant Program to help strengthen our communities and the future of our state,”  Parson said. “As we continue our work to ensure our state’s economy remains strong, these grant awards will make a real difference for local communities. Projects funded through this program will benefit Missourians all across our state by supporting critical services and addressing local needs.”

“We’re excited to announce these significant investments through the Community Revitalization Grant Program to help strengthen our communities and the future of our state.”

gov. mike parson on the award of the grant

In this region, a not-for-profit group at West Plains received $376,992 for small business development, $495,512 went for a park at Rolla and Branson was awarded $1 million for affordable housing.

The local foundation expressed its thanks to Sarah Callahan of the South Central Council of Government for assisting with the grant application and for help it received from the region’s state Sen. Karla Eslinger, who championed the project for its benefits to the community and the nearby Houston School District. In a call Thursday, she praised the local group’s accomplishment.

The state’s announcement will be added to other funding sources earlier obtained:

$500,000 under the Missouri Department of Economic Development’s Missouri Neighborhood Assistance Program, which allows donors to receive generous state tax credits and write off the donation on federal tax returns, too. It has been successful in past efforts, including the construction of the Melba Performing Arts Center in downtown Houston.

•$300,000 from the Texas County Commission using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

•$600,000 from the Texas County Library Board, which over the years has upgraded or built new branch facilities at Licking, Cabool and Summersville.

Members of the foundation met last week to chart the course to move the project toward construction. Grant paperwork will be completed and a request for grant administration and engineering services will be required.

Integrity Engineering of Rolla has completed preliminary design work for 7,200 square foot library that will be constructed as the top level of the Houston Storm Shelter, which was built in 2007 at First and Pine streets in Houston with plans to add the library later.

The floor plan for the library in Houston.

Late last year, the Houston City Council approved a 50-year lease with another 50-year option for use of the shelter building. Special features of the library layout includes 215 square foot for small businesses to have access to workspace and equipment, a community room, a children’s area over about 520 square feet and 630 square feet for computers. Houston’s original library was constructed in 1950.

Public input is being sought. Patrons will receive a form when they check out books at any library location.

Members of the Texas County Library Foundation are: Terry Jones, president; Janet Fraley, treasurer; Brad Gentry, secretary; and Dala Whittaker, Ross Richardson, Cathy Sirdoreus, Shelia Walker, Linda Roberts and Gwen Ross, members.


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