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Groundbreaking Held Last Thursday For Dr. Mark and Tonya Spivey Library

Local dignitaries and members of the public gathered last Thursday morning to witness the groundbreaking ceremony for the Dr. Mark and Tonya Spivey Public Library. The event was hosted by the Greater Vidalia Chamber and featured comments by various local legislators and community figures. The Vidalia Branch of the Ohoopee Regional Library System has been a staple of community resources for many years, as it houses the Ladson Genealogical Library, which is among the largest genealogy library resources in the country. Within the past year, Senator Blake Tillery has helped the library board review the budget and find funding to modernize the facility. This funding, combined with state grants and a generous $250,000 donation from Dr. Mark and Tonya Spivey, will be used in extensive renovation of the current building.

“When we talk about funding, the state can step in and promise programs, but they are never going to work if you do not ever have local buy-in, or local support from the beginning to make it happen,” Senator Tillery explained. “This project is possibly the best example in the entire state of local participation, local government participation, individual participation, and the Legislature working with our executive agencies to make this work as well.”

Tillery informed attendees that the library has received $3 million of state funding — $2 million of which came from the state Senate, and $1 million of which came from the state House of Representatives. He thanked former District 156 Representative Greg Morris for his work in helping gain that funding, and current District 156 Representative Leesa Hagan for continuing Morris’s work by securing that funding.

He highlighted Dr. Mark and Tonya Spivey’s contribution, and also acknowledged the smaller, local donations that had been given to support the community. “Without you working from the ground up, this building would not be happening, and the things which we will do after would not be able to be achieved, either,” he told the public.

“This is going to be a well-deserved and muchneeded addition to this community,” Georgia Congressman Rick Allen remarked at the groundbreaking.

Representative Hagan shared her congratulations to all those involved with the library project, and emphasized her personal excitement to see the resource upgraded. “During the five years that I homeschooled my kids, I did a lot of it right here in this building,” she reminisced. “We are so excited to see what is to come and for this library to continue to be the center and a heart for this neighborhood and the community as a whole.”

Toombs County Commissioner Wendell Dixon spoke on behalf of the Board of Commissioners. “I am proud to say all of your commissioners are on board with this project,” he noted. “This will be great for not just the city, but the county and surrounding areas.” “I have a lot of memories here. I can remember going through those doors as a child for many years,” Mayor Doug Roper said. “I could not be happier to see the transformation that is going to take place. The library is a pivotal part of our community, and to think about the memories there that will occur for years to come is incredible.”

He added, “Also, thank you to Dr. Mark and Tonya Spivey. The ways that they give to our community are incredible. Thank you for what you are doing to help see this project through.”

Mike Hagan spoke on behalf of the Greater Vidalia Chamber, connecting the importance of literacy in the community to the number of businesses that choose to come into the area. “One of the things that businesses look at when they look to invest in a community are the methods of developing youth to be contributing members of society,” he explained. “The library is such an important part of that process. So, on behalf of the business community, thank you Dr. Mark and Tonya Spivey for your contribution, and to the community for your support of this project.”

Dr. Spivey closed the ceremony with his comments on the community and the project. “It is great to be a part of this community. We love it and we are so happy to be a part of this project.”

While originally planned to be a three-year project, the groundbreaking marked the beginning of the unexpected timeline acceleration for the construction. The previous timeline was altered after fundraising for the project exceeded original expectations and provided the opportunity to reduce the wait for an updated facility.

Upon completion, the Dr. Mark and Tonya Spivey Public will provide a 21st Century Library capable of serving a county population of 27,000, plus surrounding counties, well into the future. The library will also house the Ladson Genealogical Library, bringing all of the county’s resources under a singular roof.

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