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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

Library opening delayed


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BROOKSVILLE - The fire-damaged East Hernando Branch Library in Ridge Manor was set to open around Jan. 1 after being closed the last four months.

Various delays have moved that target back, including a need to make sure the restoration specifications by departments and inspectors are accurate.

"The damages were more extensive than first thought," said County Commissioner Jim Adkins. Adkins said he is anxious to get the library operational because it is a vital resource to people on the county's eastside.

The county is preparing to send out bids to see who gets the construction contract to restore the inside and outside of the building at 6457 Windmere Road.

The fire marshal determined the fire started in a porch area. Sheriff's deputies arrested 18-year-old Joseph Michael Brannen on a charge of second-degree arson. His trial is tentatively set for Dec. 2.

The 7-year-old library had 18,000 items inside at the time of the fire, which destroyed a section of new books and magazines. The rest of the collection was damaged by water and smoke.

The inside of the building has been thoroughly cleaned and the books are being kept in climate-controlled storage pods, said Cristi Charlow, county risk management coordinator. The county's insurance company paid for the clean-up of all books and assorted items, which came to about $398,000. The county had to pay a $25,000 deductible. The repair cost to the building is still to be determined.

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