SPRINGFIELD – John Chewning was casting about on the Internet, looking for college scholarships for Springfield High students.
What he reeled in, with the help of librarian Joe Simmons, was a $20,000 grant to help the library almost wiped out by the Great Flood of 2016.
“This is my first grant in 27 years,” Simmons said on Tuesday, March 28, during a presentation of the check from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.
Dollar General sponsors a school library disaster relief fund for libraries in the states served by the retail stores, in conjunction with the American Library Association and American Association of School Librarians.
The Beyond Word Grant helps schools whose library programs have been affected by a natural disaster, fire or act recognized by the federal government as terrorism, according to the American Association of School Librarians web site.
“I promise we will spend $20,000,” Principal Spencer Harris told Michele Tamplain, Dollar General district manager from Hammond, after the presentation.
“I feel good that we’re helping my hometown school; I live here in Springfield,” Tamplain said.
Tamplain, Springfield Dollar General store manager Lucy Woodruff and associates from the local store all attended the grant presentation.
“The whole team is here,” from the Springfield store, Tamplain said.
The principal invited Tamplain to return and tour the library, so she can see how the grant was used.
Books, resource materials and electronics lost during the August flooding will be replaced, said Simmons, the librarian.
Chewning and Simmons also joked about the grant guideline that a school must be within 20 miles of a Dollar General store.
“We have one 0.2 miles away,” Chewning said. “There are four more within four to five miles.”
The grant is one step in the long process of returning Springfield High to its pre-flood condition, its principal said.
“We got doors a few weeks ago,” Harris said, and carpeting has been replaced.
This summer, walls will be finished, everything will be painted and
all of the tile will be replaced, he said.
The tile also will get six coats of wax to stand up to desks, he added.
“We’ll make it work,” Harris about improving the school. “We’ve got no option.”