Gravette Library Closes Amid Structural Renovations

GRAVETTE (KFSM) -- The Gravette Public Library has been closed for repairs after residents started to question the structural integrity of the building.

The library moved to its Main Street location in February, but concerns about how it was built prompted the city council to call an emergency meeting on Friday (Aug. 19), which resulted in the entire building closing.

Before construction started, the council gave control of the project to the city.

"The licensed contractors were under the assumption for some reason that they didn't need to get permits while doing this," said Kurt Maddox, mayor of Gravette. "That created some people questioning whether it was done correctly."

Some residents, who wouldn't go on camera, said the mayor shared part of the blame for what they called faulty work on floors and an entryway built between two buildings.

Maddox said he closed down part of the library and called an engineer from Robbins Engineering Consultants of Little Rock to conduct an inspection.

"His recommendation was to add two metal lintels down the sides and just tack them into the lintels on the walls," Maddox said.

According to an engineering report, the wall that was cut through to connect two buildings showed "no signs of distortion or deflection."

The engineer also looked at the floor boards that had started to bow in places.

A few floor joists had sustained fire damage in the past but "isn't enough to cause a significant loss of strength," according to the report.

"He found two wooden shims that were 50 years old that were put in there then, that he said should probably be taken out and a block put in," Maddox said. "That's the only thing he found in the back area."

Maddox said that was quickly taken care of. He also said areas of the plywood floor weren't properly screwed down in the rear of the building.

The cost of the repairs has been lumped in with the deck addition to the rear of the building, according to Maddox, who stated that the added cost would still keep the project under budget.

While the library is closed, GED classes will be relocated to the Gravette Community Center, located beside the old library location on Southeast Charlotte Street.

The community center will also hold a city council meeting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 25 that is expected to discuss the closure.

Library Manager Kim Schneider said her staff will remain on the job, by stay connected through social media and catching up on work.

"We've got tons of books that the public has been donating. They've been very gracious," Schneider said. "We will bring those books in here and we will start the process of cataloging and catching up on that."

Work on the library is expected to take a few weeks, but Schneider said it won't keep them down.

"We might take a break for a little bit, but we'll bring it back and we'll go from there," Schneider said. "So, it doesn't stop us. I mean, it might slow us down a little bit, but it won't stop us."