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Mexia takes quick action to restore library service after possible arson

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Posted at 10:06 PM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-04 01:52:14-04

MEXIA, TX — Thursday night Mexia city leaders and leaders of the Gibbs Memorial Library held a joint emergency meeting to update the public on the possible arson that destroyed half the building and books.

A lot of people in Mexia depend on that library, a place some call the busiest in town.

Kristin Green goes to the Mexia library every two weeks and checks out as many books as librarians allow, all to read to her son, Dallas. But last Saturday morning, brought a shock.

"The sirens, we heard them at like 4 o'clock in the morning and we didn't know what it was, and when my husband got up for work at 6, he came back and he said, "I have some devastating news. I think the library is on fire,"" she recalled.

Firefighters managed to save the west wing of the Gibbs Memorial Library, but the east wing was lost as fire burned through the roof.

A preliminary investigation points to arson.

Important historical and genealogy documents escaped the fire, but about half the books did not.

So Thursday night, the Mexia City Council and the Gibbs Memorial Library Board met in joint session to get things moving.

"We made great strides in putting our library back together," said Mexia City Councilman Butch Newhouse, who said they gave emergency purchasing power to the City Manager and made the library board the chief fundraiser.

Whatever Mexia lost to the fire, people aim to see restored.

"I feel confident that we're gonna come back with a facility that's as good, if not better, than the one we had," said Newhouse.

Fortunately, the library has good insurance coverage. The library building is insured for about $1.4 million, and the contents almost $69 million. Repair estimates to re-open the library range from $500,000 to $750,000.

In the meantime, businessman Hughes Dillard has donated the former Dixie Furniture store for use as a temporary library.

"That's really the spirit of our community. We have a loss, and we've had our share over the years, and each time people step up in a lot of different ways," said Newhouse.

Right now, Mexia has no timetable on when it might have the temporary library open, but tonight's meeting was meant to show that the project would get the fast track.

Something that makes the Green family, grateful, because books play such an important part in their family.

"That's what we were so worried about was that we wouldn't have a place to get our books and read and enjoy books," said Green.

She hopes to soon browse for books in the new, temporary library. Green said she's happy to live in a place where, reading and learning matter.