RIDGE MANOR - Library patrons on the east side will have somewhere to go until repairs are completed on the fire-damaged East Hernando Branch Library.
County commissioners have approved a lease with the board of directors of the Ridge Manor Community Center, which allows for the east wing portion of the center to be used for temporary library services.
The no-cost lease is effective through Aug. 15, 2014.
Last July, a fire burned the library at 6457 Windmere Road. Sheriff's deputies arrested 18-year-old Joseph Michael Brannen and charged him with second-degree arson.
Brannen is expected to be sentenced to eight years in prison on Friday if a plea deal is accepted in court, according to his lawyer, Assistant Public Defender David Bauer. He has been held in jail on no bail since his arrest about two weeks after the fire, booking records show.
According to a sheriff's office investigation, Brannen admitted to piling up wicker furniture on a back porch of the library, and igniting them with a lighter he later tossed into the woods. He said he set the fire because he wanted to assist professional firefighters extinguish the blaze.
Brannen then returned to his Windmere Drive home, suited up in bunker gear, and returned to the library as law enforcement was arriving on scene.
Brannen told sheriff's Deputy Stephen Dillon he wanted to help. The deputy did not let him fight the fire, and gave him a ride home.
Brannen was later interviewed as arrested after admitting his involvement.
The library had 18,000 items at the time of the fire. The fire destroyed a section of new books and magazines, and the rest of the collection was damaged by water and smoke.
The Ridge Manor Community Center is located at 34240 Cortez Blvd.
The new location will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Services provided include:
??Four desktop computers with Internet access for public use
??Free Wi-Fi and printing
??Small collection of new books and other materials available for checkout
??Library card sign-up and renewal
??Two library staff members available to assist with reference questions, computer/tech help, and library material check-outs and returns
??Pick-up location for requests of library materials. All circulating library materials can now be requested for transfer to and pick up at this location
The Ridge Manor Community Center board of directors will hold an opening celebration/open house at 6 p.m. Monday.
Participants will be treated to a movie and refreshments.
There will also be a ribbon cutting with the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce at noon Tuesday.
For more information, call (352) 754-4043 or visit the library's website at www.hernandocountylibrary.us.