Library district formed

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Belmont County commissioners motioned to approve, at the request of the Board of Trustees of the Martins Ferry Public Library, to form a County Library District. It will be composed of all the territory being served by the Martins Ferry Public Library.

It is comprised of seven school districts including the Martins Ferry City School District, Bridgeport, Shadyside, and the portions of Union Local, Harrison HIlls, Buckeye Local and Switzerland of Ohio within Belmont County.

The commissioners motioned to appoint four members of the Board of Trustees of the Belmont County District Library effective July 31. They are Madelyn Holbrook for a one year-term, John Griffiths for a three-year term, Jim Miller for a five-year term, and Mary Edith Sambuco for a seven-year term. All are from Martins Ferry.

Library Director Yvonne Myers and Fiscal Officer Karri Haglock gave a presentation and outlined the history of the library. Myers noted that in 1930 the library was first formed as a school district library by Martins Ferry. Branches are located in Bridgeport, Shadyside, Powhatan Point, Bethesda and Flushing.

In the 1930s, they were made a county extension library, but last year Senate Bill 321 removed the extension designation on the grounds that it was antiquated.

“The state library of Ohio advised us to become a county district library,” Myers said, adding that the state library was concerned with ensuring boundaries around the state for in counties for all libraries for taxation purposes.

“When you run levies you don’t want to be taxed twice, and that has happened. So the state library’s cleaning that all up,” she said, adding that the finalization for district library status was concluded at the state level last week.

As as result, the library district’s taxing authority will change. It will be conducted through the commissioners, who appoint four of the board members, while the common plea judges appoint three. They will be for terms of two, four and six years. Members are Mary Louise Snider, Keith Summer, and Susan Tolbert-Dunbar.

“We have to collapse our old board and get the new board going,” she said.

All four board members appointed by the commissioners were members of the prior board.

Commissioners asked if this would affect libraries not in the district. Myers noted that the county also included the Bellaire, Barnesville and St. Clairsville Libraries, not part of Martins Ferry’s district. She said the state has designated a school district for each of these libraries.

“We basically have the rest of the state,” she said, adding that there would be no hardship on the county.

She said the next step will include running a levy for the library district. She noted these measures will ensure no one is taxed twice at Bellaire, Barnesville and St. Clairsville.

“What the state library has done is they’re trying to keep things within a county, otherwise it gets really messy if the school district changes things later,” Myers said.

Auditor Andrew Sutak noted the timeframe, saying the formation should proceed quickly to have the levy in place on the November ballot.

Myers said the board will re-organize at a meeting that evening and place the issue before Sutak Thursday. They will ask that Sutak certify the valuation of the new library district. This will determine the millage.

Myers added that in the future they hope to include board members from around the county for better representation.

DeFrank can be reached at