Nantahala Community seeks new and improved library facilities


Deena C. Bouknight

Contributing Writer

Nantahala resident Ed Trask brought to the Macon County Commissioners’ meeting on Sept. 11, much research, a timeline, and input regarding the need for either an updated community library or a completely new structure. Nantahala Community Library is located on Nantahala School Road in Topton. The current structure is essentially a dated double-wide mobile home-type building with wooden steps and a ramp. 

Trask’s request to the commissioners was to include a new and/or improved facility in their Space Needs Study and Capital Facilities Plan. He shared graphs indicating unprompted feedback from citizens participating in various focus groups showing they are interested in their library offering more space for events, community involvement activities – such as job fairs – and even classes such as arts, crafts, and exercise. Current space is limited, as are services. Another request from Nantahala residents is that the library provide “more bandwidth, more reliable high-speed internet,” according to surveys. 

When asked where community residents would like to have a new library, the White Oak Flats area received the most responses. However, almost as many residents requested that the library stay at the existing location, citing centralization, easy accessibility, convenience, and safety. 

Ronnie Beale, vice chair, commented that finding a new location would be “tough” in Nantahala and offered that “there are ways to make the existing location work.” He added that improving the existing location of the Nantahala Community Library would “make good economic sense.” 

Commissioner Paul Higdon said he believed an improved facility is “well deserved and long past due.” He added that it seemed, by the presented research, that the community uses the existing library and desires an updated, expanded facility, and he suggested the issue be a top priority when the commissioners meet to solidify the Capital Facilities Plan in 2019. Commissioners agreed. 

In other Macon County Commission meeting news, the commissioners discussed a grant award for the purchase of in-car cameras and body cameras for the Macon County Sheriff’s Department. 

“The grant is a $65k award from the State Legislature,” said County Manager Derek Roland. “Our local representative Kevin Corbin was extremely influential in getting us these funds and we are very excited as it will enable us to purchase this needed equipment.”  

The commissioners voted unanimously to accept the grant funding with purchase of the equipment taking place as soon as funds are received.