CAPULIN — The Conejos County Library, Capulin Project, has come to fruition after more than a year's work.
The grand opening was Friday afternoon, July 27.
Conejos Library District Board President Celina Espinoza gave a heartfelt dedication speech. “This has been a four-year project in the making and is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate the power of a rural community working together in support of their children.”
A significant shot in the arm came from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA).
In a letter to Library Director Maria DeHerrera, DOLA then- Executive Director Irv Halter acknowledged receipt of the application for state Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Funds, derived from oil, gas, carbon dioxide, coal and metals extracted in Colorado.
“Competition for these limited funds was intense, and we had many more requests than we had funds available,” Halter wrote. “After thorough review, I am excited to offer a grant award in the amount of $96,228.”
A former residence in Capulin was identified as location for the library and approved by the Conejos Board of County Commissioners, who offered necessary help to get the project moving.
Halter wrote that the project was reviewed based on a variety of factors such as its connection to energy impact, degree of need, measurable outcomes, amount of request, relationship to community goals, level of local match and community support, management capacity and readiness to go.
Halter concluded, “As you begin construction of your project, I ask that you hang a banner on site, which will be provided by DOLA, to assist in demonstrating the partnership between the state and local governments while acknowledging the industry’s contributions to the impact program.
"Additionally, DOLA would like to send a plaque memorializing the funding partnership when the project is complete.”
The Conejos Library opened in 1978 in La Jara. Conejos Library became its own district in 2000 and was assigned a mil levy.
Becoming a library district provided the library with the autonomy to become its own fiscal agent, manage its own budget and save any carryover for future expansion and expenses.
In 2008 the library district, through the use of grants and the mil levy saved enough money to open the Antonito Library Branch.
Now, 10 years later, the district celebrated the opening of the new Capulin Library Branch.
The ceremony was attended by Senator Larry Crowder, Capulin Water District President Vivien Rivera, Christy Doon from the Department of Local Affairs and Dr. Sharon Morris and Joyce Johnson from the Colorado State Library.
Both the Department of Local Affairs and Colorado State Library presented certificates of recognition to Maria DeHerrera for her selfless dedication, bringing literacy and libraries to rural communities in Conejos County.