County commissioners table library renaming request

Article Published: Feb. 7, 2013 | Modified: Feb. 7, 2013
County commissioners table library renaming request

Evelyn Shook Johnson, 54, died in January after suffering a heart attack. Community members and library patrons are seeking to rename the library building after Johnson, who worked there for more than 35 years.
File photo

Commissioners tabled a request Tuesday to rename the Watauga County Public Library in memory of a longtime staff member, directing staff to draft a policy for the naming of county facilities.

Peggy Hartley, a library patron, presented the request to name the building the Evelyn Shook Johnson Memorial Library. Johnson, 54, died in January after suffering a heart attack. She had served the library for more than 35 years, even after she could have retired, Hartley said.

“Evelyn was simply the library,” she said. “Our hearts hurt to know that we won’t see her there anymore, but we can see her name every time we go to the library.”

About a dozen people attended the meeting Tuesday to observe the library request, and commissioners said they had received many emails about the matter.

Chairman Nathan Miller and board member Billy Kennedy both said the emails were primarily in support of the change but that some were not.

The board directed county manager Deron Geouque to draft a policy for naming county facilities, and Miller asked that a public hearing be involved in the process. Geouque said a draft might be ready by the next meeting Feb. 19, but it may be considered instead at the county’s annual retreat Feb. 22 to 23.

“I’m certainly not opposed to this, but I think we set a dangerous precedent by going out and naming buildings without a policy,” Miller said.

The only current county property named for an individual is the Lois E. Harrill Senior Center, which honors the first Project on Aging director who was killed in an automobile accident.

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