“We want to do the due diligence and make sure everything is safe,” director
Phil Baugher told the Westchester Public Library Board last night.
He was reporting on the finding of arsenic exceeding the residential
direct-contact cleanup objective in one of two soil samples taken on vacant
land north of Hageman Library in Porter.
Additional testing was recommended and will be done to determine if the
arsenic is naturally occuring in this once industrial area. A consultant
will present his findings to the board at the Nov. 10 meeting.
Member Rick Hokanson said the site, formerly historic Hageman School, used a
coal-fired boiler and cinders may have been disposed on the property. An
inventor is thought to have operated a small workshop there at one time
The board is considering undertaking a $30,000 project at Hageman where a
community garden, planted arbors, a pavillion and shallow recirculating
water feature would be installed north of the library building. The
soil-test results may limit WPL’s ability to use the land as planned.
Commented Library Board president Claire Jolie, “I’m really concerned about
the arsenic situation. I’m a little intimidated, especially if you want to
grow vegetables.” WPL attorney Terry Hiestand said there are ways to
remediate sites to enable their safe future use.
The area where the initial Hageman tests were conducted is used as an
overflow parking lot and is covered with old blacktop that Baugher said
serves as a barrier to the soil below.
He advised he’s following reports of environmental testing being done three
blocks west of Hageman at the 32-acre Brickyard parcel where arsenic was
found in soil samples there; it’s likely additional testing will be ordered
to determine the full nature and extent of contamination.
Leea Yelich, Thomas Library branch librarian in Chesterton, and WPL-operated
Westchester Township History Museum co-curator Serena Sutliff were
introduced to the board. Both were hired last month and replace long-time
WPL assistant director Jane Walsh-Brown, who is retiring at year’s end.
Sutliff previously interned for Walsh-Brown. “I love this museum. I
completely fell in love with this area.”
Yelich has a Masters degree in Library Science and plans to attend all
Library Board meetings so she can fill in for Baugher when he’s not
available. “Thank you very much for this opportunity to work here,” she told
There were over 100 applicants for the positions.
Walsh-Brown was congratulated for winning the Indiana Historical Society’s
Hubert Hawkins History Award; she previously was awarded a Lifetime
Achievement Award from the Indiana Library Federation. WPL is hosting a
museum open house for her Nov. 5.
Baugher announced a new policy will control access to the Library Service
Center restrooms after vandalism occurred in the lower level one. Thomas
restrooms were vandalized before as well.
The upstairs LSC restrooms are nearing completion of a $33,900 remodeling
and to avoid vandalism Baugher plans to keep them locked but provide keys to
groups who use the meeting room and to staff of the Adult Learing Center
Board member Drew Rhed inquired about video surveillance of the exterior
restroom doors; Baugher said building security cameras are in WPL’s
long-range plan but with the main-floor Thomas restrooms slated for a major
upgrade in 2012, cameras may have to be addressed sooner.
Baugher said he’s withdrawn WPL from participating in the consortium used to
share downloadable eBooks and audio books and is working with the Overdrive
service to create a site just for WPL patrons by Dec. 1
Baugher said changes being discussed by the consortium that served 440,000
residents would have restricted access for WPL patrons to available titles.
Library Board member Michele Corrazo asked if WPL’s own e/audio books are
sufficient. Baugher said yes and he’s building WPL’s Advantage collection
each year; maintaining the new site will cost slightly more for the library,
but Baugher said ensuring availability will be worth it for patrons.
The director announced a patron’s $5,000 donation to help fund the popular
Bits and Bytes computer classes. The board expressed its appreciation.
A public hearing was opened on the proposed 2012 WPL budget. No one
commented and a special Oct. 27 meeting is slated for adoption.
Hired was Linda Bayman as a clerk and Lindsay Walker as a fill-in clerk;
both previously had served as WPL volunteers.
Baugher said Oct. 31 is the deadline to enter WPL’s own Bulwer-Lytton
Fiction Contest. Each entry must be a single sentence of original,
unpublished material that intentionally unleashes deliberately bad
Participants can submit multiple entries in the categories of Western,
Action and Adventure, Romance, Horror, Sci-Fi, General Fiction and Mystery.
A winner will be chosen from each category, as well as a grand prize for
overall best worst sentence. Information and submission forms are available
at both Thomas and Hageman libraries. Winners will be announced Nov. 4.