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Jackson County Commissioners table Fontana Regional Library agreement vote

Jackson County GOP chairman Keith Blaine was the only person who brought up the Fontana Regional Library agreement during public comment.
Lilly Knoepp
Jackson County GOP chairman Keith Blaine was the only person who brought up the Fontana Regional Library agreement during public comment.

On Tuesday evening, Jackson County Commissioners declined to move on changing the Fontana Regional Library (FRL) Agreement after hearing County Manager Don Adams’ 10-year review of the document.

The agreement between Jackson, Swain and Macon Counties to work together as part of a regional library system was signed in December 2022. The review of the agreement was initiated after discussions in Macon County about the FRL collections policy.

The three county managers recommended the library system remain the same but that the way regional board of trustee members are chosen be updated to give the county commissioners more influence over policy decisions.

Adams said the new agreement would allow each county to choose how it would appoint regional board of trustee members.

“There’s all sorts of internal rules that each county can put in themselves but it’s up to those counties vs making it a regional rule that the local library boards appoint it themselves,” Adams said.

“This change could make this [board] more reflective of the election bodies at the time.”

Macon County manager Derek Roland presented the same recommendation to commissioners last week. The board made no move on the issue.

Adams explained the three county boards need to agree to the changes along with the FRL board. Then the county would need to make local amendment to restructure the board, he said.

Jackson County Commissioner John Smith made a motion to table any action on the recommendation.

“I think we need further discussion before we do anything in support, more study on what the actual agreement is right now,” said Smith, who joined the meeting via Zoom.

The four commissioners and chairman all voted unanimously in favor of tabling the decision.

Only one public commenter addressed the regional library agreement.

Keith Blaine, Jackson County GOP chairman, spoke in favor of updating the FRL agreement.

Blaine said public comment should be a part of the Jackson County Library Board meetings and said there needs to be more county input on policy.

“I believe the policy making should be moved to the lower board that is independent by county,” Blaine said.

The FRL Regional agreement was on the Swain County Commissioners agenda for August 15. The meeting was not livestreamed.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.