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Fight to keep open library gains steam

DACULA - Ever since the Gwinnett County Library board decided to close Dacula's library on Aug. 11, residents living in the small city and the surrounding area have expressed outrage over the decision.

According to an Aug. 13 statement issued by Nancy Stanbery-Kellam, Executive Director of Gwinnett County Public Library, the decision to close the Dacula library was a financial one. Dacula mayor Jimmy Wilbanks and City Council members made it clear Thursday night that they aren't buying that excuse.

"Our library is already open, and the Hamilton Mill library isn't," Wilbanks said of the brand new branch being built in the Hamilton Mill area. Stanbery-Kellam suggested in her Aug. 13 statement that the new "green" library in Hamilton Mill could serve Dacula residents in place of the library being closed.

Surprisingly, some local schools and their PTAs have not thrown their support behind the city's efforts to save the library. Wilbanks said that he has learned that the school board has said that they will not weigh in on the issue one way or the other.

Councilman Tim Montgomery finds that stance puzzling and dismaying.

"How can the school system not do everything they can to support its students by making sure libraries stay open?" he asked Thursday.

A Sept. 19 rally is scheduled in Dacula to demonstrate residents' and businesses' support for keeping the city's library open. Anyone wishing to march in support of saving the library will meet at 9 a.m. in the Hebron Church parking lot. From there, participants will march down Dacula Road to Dacula Library. The event should end about 11 a.m.

At 6:30 p.m. Sept. 22, the Gwinnett Library Board will meet at the Five Forks Trickum branch. Wilbanks expects a large showing from residents of Dacula and surrounding areas to protest what the mayor calls a "hurried decision" in which "no systemwide solution was sought."

Temporary sign permits easier to obtain

City Council members voted Thursday to change the city's sign ordinance, making it easier for businesses to obtain a temporary sign permit for banners or ground signs.

Before the change, such permits would only be valid for 10 days. Effective immediately, business owners may obtain a permit valid for 30 days.

According to Wilbanks, the change was made so that permits would be easier to obtain, and the longer 30-day use gives area businesses a little extra help in bringing in new customers.