New Ellenton, Wagener libraries may open earlier than planned

Ribbons are expected to be cut at the expanded and renovated Nancy Bonnette Library in Wagener and the new library in New Ellenton in February, roughly one month ahead of schedule.Aiken County's engineering department set March 8 as the date for the opening of each library, but it appears the two will be open to the public one month before that, according to County Engineer Joe Berry.The construction at both libraries is essentially finished; all that's left are the final inspections, crossing off the punch lists and the installation of furniture and equipment. The final inspections are set to be completed by the first week of January, and Berry believes furniture, shelving and equipment will be in by mid-January."We're ahead of schedule and right on budget," he said.The Nancy Bonnette Library has been closed for several months while crews have renovated the existing structure and added on 1,449 square feet.The expanded library will have approximately 870 square feet of reading area, will be able to accommodate 77 people in its meeting space and will extend its hours. There are 12 computer stations planned for the new library, as well as a self-checkout station at the circulation desk.The project cost is $304,700, which is funded through round two of the Capital Projects Sales Tax program.Though the library is closed, the Bookmobile is in Wagener every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.In New Ellenton, the library moved across the street to a site next door to New Ellenton City Hall. The City of New Ellenton donated the land for the library, which is about four times the size of the current one. The current building is 500 square feet. The new one is 2,337 square feet.The new library will have about 700 square feet of reading area and will be able to accommodate 70 people in its meeting space. There are 10 computer stations planned for the new facility, as well as a self-checkout station at the circulation desk.The project cost is $283,500, which is funded by round two of the Capital Projects Sales Tax. The City of New Ellenton has allocated some of its one-cent sales tax funds to furnish the new library, provide sewer and improve parking.Mary Jo Dawson, director of the ABBE Regional Library System, has been pleased with the progress and how smoothly it's gone."Excitement is starting to build. These will be a great New Year's gift to the public," she said.