September 16, 2002

By: Kim Madlom, Times Editor

 "The success of Yatesville is representative of the spirit of America." - Rep. Mack Crawford

As the City of Yatesville dedicated it's public library Sept. 14, the occasion created an opportunity to celebrate the vision, leadership, volunteerism, generosity and cooperation which made the library a reality.

The air inside the Yatesville Fire Department was a bit hot and humid and the sound system unreliable, but the fellowship among those attending the dedication - from legislators to councilmen to business leaders to just good folks - filled the room with the fresh air of success.
"What a day," said Senator Susan Cable. "We are celebrating a real small town success story."

The construction and opening of a library in Yatesville is a small town victory, said Cable and others who spoke at the event. Envisioned by Yatesville native Dan White and spearheaded by former Mayor Walter Boyt, the library opened for business earlier this year.

White's gift more than three years ago of the $25,000 in seed money - a "challenge grant" of sorts - got the project underway. Mayor Boyt set about the task of raising more money, going to Cable and Rep. Mack Crawford for state dollars, and drumming up support among the Upson County Commission, former Yatesville High School graduates and the business community.  The Yatesville Lions took on the library as their major project and made significant contributions to its completion.  In the end, more than $100,000 was raised through private sources; Cable and Crawford secured $76,000 from the state and the City of Yatesville put in $10,000.

The library opened in May of this year, and over the summer the first-ever children's summer reading program was sponsored jointly with the Pine Mountain Regional Library System.  At Saturday's dedication event, White read the names of the 11 children who participated in the summer program - drawing enthusiastic applause from the more than 100 people attending.

The library was the last goal of Boyt's three-decades of service as mayor of Yatesville. During the dedication, Cable praised Boyt for his leadership and what she called his "generosity of spirit." She read a resolution passed by the Georgia Senate which paid tribute to Boyt. That resolution was also signed by U.S. Rep. Saxby Chambliss.  Senator Cable's affection and respect for Boyt was apparent as she suppressed tears while reading the words which honored him.

About the state money for the library, Senator Cable joked that some might call the money added to the state budget for Yatesville "pork." However, she said, "the people who get that money call it steak."

The Upson County Commission is funding the library $29,000, through a budget increase for the Pine Mountain Regional Library system which includes the Hightower Memorial Library in the City of Thomaston.

Rep. Mack Crawford says he still proudly displays the shovel he used to turn the earth on the library site on a hot day in 2000 during the groundbreaking ceremony. He said he views that shovel as symbolic of one of the true success stories in the district he has served for a decade.

"The success of Yatesville is representative of the spirit of America," Crawford told the gathering. This library shows what can happen when people come together and work together," he said.

Cable, Crawford and Boyt all noted that White's initial generosity and faith in the community was the spark igniting interest in the project.  In his first meeting with Senator Cable, White told her he wanted to "close the digital divide" - a phrase describing the inaccessibility of technology to many rural Georgians.   Of White, Cable said, "It speaks volumes for this man," that he has left the community and yet continues to work on its behalf.

A former school teacher and school board president, Cable is especially concerned about education in Georgia. "Media centers and libraries," Cable said, "are the keys to the future."
That is especially true, she said, for rural communities.

The guest speaker at the dedication was Laura Meadows, the director of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, an agency with a $750 million annual budget and an array of funding programs which provide money to stimulate growth in Georgia's communities. Born in Peach County, Meadows is widely known for her support of rural Georgia.

"Small communities are the backbone of the state," Meadows said.  She said the success of Georgia's cities and counties rests with "engaged leadership, a clear vision and a strong educational system."

The library project, Meadows said, demonstrated engaged leadership and a clear vision and creates an avenue to improve education.  "What you have here," she said of the library, "is a learning center."  She said Yatesville's library serves as an example to what can be achieved in other small communities across the state. She noted that Saturday's dedication had attracted visitors from Whitesburg, who were considering a similar project for their community.

White said 150 patrons have applied for library cards. He urged the citizens to double and triple that number.

The next step, said White, who chairs the building committee for the library, is to complete a garden on the site. Citizens are invited to purchase bricks in honor and/or in memory of friends and loved ones to help with the project. The bricks are $25 and information is available at the library.


©The Thomaston Times 2002

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February 21, 2003

Republic of Georgia delegation visited Yatesville Library Feb. 15


“Georgians” visit Yatesville


By: Kim Madlom, Times Editor


The Yatesville Library story is compelling: Town of about 400 people pulls together to raise more than $100,000 toward the creation of its own library.


It’s a story so compelling that librarians from Georgia – the Republic of Georgia – visited Yatesville as they participated in the U.S. Department of State’s international Community Connections Program.


In an event Feb. 15, the group of Georgians were in Upson County to tour the library, learn about its history and meet with library officials, supporters and political leaders.  Yatesville’s success is of specific interest because of the local government involvement and the fundraising activities.


The 10 visitors included an interpreter, and the program included a tour of the Yatesville Library and a program at the town’s senior center, followed by lunch and a visit to an area ranch.


The leader of the group, Irakli Garibashvili, the president of the Republic of Georgia’s Library Association, said the group was impressed with how Yatesville’s leadership and citizens worked together to build the library.


“We want to take that experience to our country,” he said.


On the visit to Yatesville, Garibashvili said, “We have come to the conclusion that despite the geographic distances that we have and the technological differences, people in the Georgia are as hospitable as the people in our Georgia.”


The Republic of Georgia is slightly smaller than the State of Georgia and 3000 libraries across the country.  However, communications infrastructure is still lacking, making internet access unavailable in some of the facilities.  The group was impressed with the computer stations available in Yatesville’s small library – and therefore available to the citizens of such a small community.


The Yatesville Library project began with a $20,000 challenge donation from former Yatesville resident Dan White.  White was on hand Feb. 15 to greet the European delegation and join former Mayor Walter Boyt in discussing the history of the Yatesville Library.


Some of those who attended included former State Senator Susan Cable, who was instrumental in obtaining funding for the Yatesville Library; Rep. Mack Crawford, who also supported the project; County Commissioner Joel Pitts, who represents the community; and Scott Ryals of Governor Sonny Perdue’s office.


Cable, who proved charming in any language, is a former school teacher who believes libraries are key as the economy changes in the American Georgia.  “As our rural jobs, such as in farming, decrease, our people need to transition into other jobs.  The library, with the access it provides to learning and the internet, is going to help people make that transition.”


Cable presented the group with a gift from the Georgia Farm Bureau – a box in the shape of the State of Georgia, filled with pecans, preserves and other edibles native to the Peach State.  Cable mentioned that she and her husband would be in Turkey, which borders the Republic of Georgia, for a church mission trip later this year.  She suggested that she might visit Georgia as a side trip.


The librarians of the Republic of Georgia pledged to create displays in their individual libraries highlighting their trip to America – including Yatesville.


“This is a good start for a very important cultural exchange between our people.” Garibashvili said.


© The Thomaston Times 2003

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