No free lunch for libraries
To the Eagle:
It was fine to see the front page of the Ground Hog's Day edition dominated by literary matters. Diana Zimmerman did a fine job reporting on poetry and libraries in the county, as she does on so many stories. We are very fortunate to have her on your staff.
As to the poetry, I was frustrated to read the announcement of the state's new poet laureate, Tod Marshall, reading in Cathlamet only on the very day of the event the previous week, and then to read in Diana's report that the audience was small. I might have missed it in an earlier calendar, but I'm sure there would be many more who would like to have taken advantage of this rare opportunity and heard Mr. Marshall speak. Can we please try to get him back, with enough advance notice for those of us at a distance to plan to attend?
In the matter of libraries, I was sad to read of my friend and neighbor Trudy Fredickson's own frustration and her travails over the Johnson Park Westend Library. Her history, expertise, and devotion to books are all much to be admired, and the word that she seeks to establish a second volunteer library in western Wahkiakum can only be to the good.
However, I must correct one misimpression readers may have gained from the article. Trudy was quoted as saying, "I've never paid for a library card in my life...I never will." In fact, almost all library users pay for it, through their taxes. I'm not sure how the fine Cathlamet town library is funded, but I believe there is a contribution from the public coffers, which translates to individual contributions through taxes. Citizens might have forgotten, and newer ones never knew, but Wahkiakum had two chances to join the fabulous Timberland Library System. To do so, they had to create a library district to tax themselves for the cost of joining, and building a library. My late wife Thea chaired the initiative campaign both times. The first time, East Side voters, happy with the Cathlamet library, understandably deep-sixed the effort at the ballot box. So with Senator Sid Snyder's help we actually got the state law changed to allow for partial county library districts. The second time, Westend voters turned down a Timberland taxing district by three votes. At that point, we said the heck with it, and just bought a card for Pacific County. That is why Trudy would have to pay for a library card for the Naselle Library, because her fellow voters said "No!" to libraries. By the way, the fee, now closer to $80, is approximately the same as what most of our tax bills would be had we created a library district, and it is well worth it. You might say, there's no free lunch at the library. That said, all good luck to Trudy for her efforts to set up a free library in the Westend.
Finally, having mentioned Johnson Park, on the night of the recent, very helpful Cannabis forum, we thanked the commissioners for holding it, but no one thanked the Johnson Park Board for hosting it, and we should do so. We are fortunate to have that splendid facility in our community. I hope they can work out their library issues effectively and amicably in the future.