County closes Radcliff branch of public library for roof repairs

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Inspection finds broken, cracked trusses that compromised structural integrity

By Marty Finley

Radcliff will be without its library branch for several months.

The north branch of the Hardin County Public Library has been closed after the county found structural defects in the roof of the older section of the library, Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry said.

Berry said duct work had been sagging and was rusting on bookshelves. The bookcases, he added, probably provided enough pressure to keep a portion of the ceiling from falling.

Rene Hutcheson, director of the Hardin County Public Library, said library officials noticed a crack growing in some sheet rock. Once inspected, the county found several trusses were severely cracked and some were completely broken, Berry said.

Hutcheson said it was an emergency situation that called for an evacuation and closure for the safety of those inside.

“If the roof structure is not safe, then the building is not safe,” she said.

The branch closed on Oct. 17, she said, and the county has since hired ICON Engineering & Inspection Services to complete the engineering work for the repairs, which Berry said should be finished by mid-November.

“We should know more in three or four weeks,” he said.

Once the engineering is completed, Berry said the county will work quickly to negotiate with a contractor so they can start the construction work by December. Berry issued an emergency order to expedite the repairs and said a cost estimate would not be available until the engineering work is finished.

But he said it will take several weeks to make the repairs with no definitive timeline to reopen the facility. Berry said it would be the first of the year at the earliest, but it could fall into February or March before the facility can be used again.

Hutcheson commended the county on its quick decision to close and repair the library branch when many counties would simply say they have no money for repairs and close the branch permanently.

Since the closure, the staff of the north branch has been reassigned temporarily to the Elizabethtown location and some of the programs at the north branch are in the process of being rescheduled, Hutcheson said.

“No one has been laid off,” she said. “Everyone is here working.”

She said the library is currently looking for a location to hold the children’s story hour one day a week, either at a local church or Colvin Community Center. Hutcheson said the story hour is typically held two days a week, but the program will be condensed into one session.

The bookmobile also will be available in the parking lot of the north branch for two weeks during November to give northern Hardin County residents another outlet to the library, the schedule of which is being finalized. It will be offered on a limited basis afterward because the site will not be usable during construction, she said.

Hutcheson said library and county officials also have moved equipment and supplies out of harm’s way. Items such as books and computers have been relocated to the newer expanded portion of the facility while furniture and bookshelves have been moved into county storage, she said.

Hutcheson said she was pleased with her staff because they moved books and supplies and worked hard to make the transition without complaint.

“It made me proud,” she said.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.