February 04, 2023

Prairie City Public Library gets $5K in matching funds from Jasper County

If the library is awarded a CAT grant, it could provide a $170K return for new facility

Sue Ponder, director of the Prairie City Public Library, speaks with the Jasper County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 3 in the county courthouse.

Prairie City Public Library was authorized on Jan. 3 to receive $5,000 in matching funds from the Jasper County Board of Supervisors, which would go toward an Iowa Economic Development Authority Community Attraction and Tourism Grant application that could net the library an extra $170,000 for a new facility.

Sue Ponder, director of the Prairie City Public Library, said the library has been fundraising for the expansion and renovation of an empty building in the town square to serve as its new location. The new library would be adjacent to the Prairie City City Hall and less than a half block from the Red Rock Prairie Trail.

With the fundraising campaign kicked off in May 2021, the library has raised more than $600,000 in donations and pledges towards the estimated project costs of $865,000. Ponder said the library has been waiting to apply for a Community Attraction and Tourism Grant for some time.

In order to be eligible for the grant, the IEDA required Prairie City Public Library to have 65 percent of the funding. Ponder said the library has 70 percent of its funding. The grant would cover up to 20 percent of the project costs and it is required to be last money in on the project.

Which means the library still has to collect more donations and pledges to make sure the grant is the bookend to the fundraising efforts.

“However, there is another requirement for grant eligibility, and that’s to have cash support from both our city and our county,” Ponder said to supervisors. “I did call the grant manager at IEDA to verify this is a firm requirement, and it is. Without your support we can’t even apply for the grant.”

If necessary, Ponder said the $5,000 commitment from Jasper County could be contingent upon the library being awarded the grant.

If the library is not awarded the grant, it does not cost the county anything. Ponder stressed the importance of the library to both its city residents and rural residents. About 30 percent of the Prairie City Public Library’s checkouts are from rural residents. Plus, a new facility would significantly increase its space.

Receiving the grant, Ponder added, would maximize the funds the library has already received to create a facility to be used by all of our patrons and visitors.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.