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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD


The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Mendon library needs money and a new home

By Greg Boyles

April 22, 2009 | MENDON -- In the living room there is a solid wood desk, computer with the latest technologies, and a telephone. Starting in the furthest corner, shelves snake along the walls and lead into a bedroom overrun by books. The shelves continue into what was once a kitchen. Down the hall and off to the left there is a bathroom with a tub and a light blue shower curtain.

This little white home has been serving as the Mendon Cottage Library since 2004, and had to be temporarily closed in March due to insufficient funds, said Lynn Butler, chair of the city's library board.

Butler said the library's main source of revenue is generated through donations. A smaller portion, approximately one third, is given by the city; however, Butler said the library is in need of further support from the city.

"Right now the city does give us $7,000 a year to run the library," she said. "But when you're looking at a running budget of around $23,000 a year, it's really hard to run on only $7,000."

The home is the property of the Watkins family, who own the land around the building at the corner of 100 East and North Main streets. Every month the library board must pay rent, roughly $460, to continue using the home as the Mendon Cottage Library, Butler said.

"We're paying rent, which is something other cities don't have to do because the city owns the building," Butler said.

Butler, who has been involved with the library since it opened four and a half years ago, said the library's financial woes derive mainly from the fact that the city does not own the building.

"You have to buy the building or build a building to get around that problem," she said.

The library board's goal is to become a state certified library, Butler said. One stipulation to meet this goal is that the city has to fund 65 percent of the library, something Butler said does not happen.

In hopes of gaining more support from the city, the Mendon Cottage Library Board encouraged local residents to attend the City Council meeting on April 9, Butler said.

George Deweese, city councilman and library liaison, said while the council would like to help further fund the library, the city is not financially solvent, and could not financially support building a new library. The council did request the library board come back next month with a location within the city where they'd like to build a library, and if the city approves the location, a new library can be built there.

Deweese said a new library building would cost anywhere between $200,000 and $300,000 to construct, but due to financial constraints the city will not be able to help fund the project, and the board will need to come up with donations.

"It could be done for less if we had volunteers that were willing to help build the building," he said.

A library tax was also suggested, which Deweese said may be on the election ballot next fall. The decision to add the new tax to the ballot will be voted on by the council within the next few months.

Deweese said every city council member is being asked to present a budget for the following year. The library presented their budget at the council meeting and is awaiting approval.

While the city is currently contributing $7,000 a year to the library, Deweese said cuts are inevitable, and the council is working on where those cuts will come from.

According to a Mendon Cottage Library financial status report from July 2008 through March 2009, the library had a total income of approximately $24,338. In that same nine-month period the library spent approximately $22,413, leaving the library with roughly $1,900 to fund the library.

The library is also expected to generate no revenue for the months of April, May and June, according to the report, and spend roughly $2,177 in the same time frame. This would put the library in the hole $402 for the year, the report stated.

However, Butler said the report does not take into account donations that could come in during those three months. She said during the month of May, the library holds a silent and a live auction, all of which raised $5,000 last year, she said.

"We don't have enough money to pay for June, but if we get enough (during the fundraisers), and if the city approves our budget, then we should have enough to take us through the end of the year," she said.

While money is tight for the little library, Butler said they are only temporarily closed, and should be able to open up sometime in the near future.

But life at the Mendon Cottage Library didn't stop just because they put a ‘closed' sign on the door. Butler said library supporters are still offering donations, Mendon residents are still returning books they'd rented, and the library is still doing children story time, a weekly program designed to support the youth in the community, she said.

"We're at the point now that we could open up if we wanted," she said. "We'll probably be back up and running in the next two weeks."

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