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June 27, 2012

Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2012, at 11:01 AM

Our June city council meeting was last Monday evening. We approved a budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year; the final budget has a small surplus of expected revenue over projected expenses. Malden is fortunate to have a very positive surplus in its general fund and other funds that we have accumulated in recent years. There was discussion of ordinances to facilitate the construction of a new Dollar General Store at the intersection of "J" Highway and North Douglass Street. The ordinances involve closing an alley and changing the alignment of a street. The proposed ordinances were "passed" by resolution but were actually tabled until the attorneys for the developer and our city attorney can finalize the details of utility easements and the division of costs related to the project. There was a resolution passed by a vote of seven to one to invite the Dunklin County Library Board to a public meeting with the Malden City Council to discuss their decision to build a new library two miles northeast of our present downtown. The Malden City Clerk mailed the invitation on June 19th and suggested a meeting date of July 2nd at 7:00 P.M. at the Malden City Hall. It is hard to gather a diverse group of people, but with good will and a desire to work together people can usually find a way to accommodate each other especially as to time and place.

Our local library has been much on my mind. During the 1980's, I served on the Library Board and I was even, for a while, the Malden Library "story lady." The Malden Branch of the Dunklin County Library is a well loved and honored institution in this community. It can be argued that the entire county library system would not exist were it not for the efforts of a citizen of Malden. Elise K. Byrd of this city fought a long battle for a county library, and her hard work resulted in a county wide election in 1947 to create a system funded by public money. She is famous in this town for the fact that she began a public library on her own and with her own books and money. She even had a small portable building constructed that sat for a while in the backyard of her home, and it was the Malden Library. I knew her when I was a child. She was a lady in every sense of the word.

When I was growing up in Malden the library was in a two story white house that stood where the present library is now located. I loved that old house and library. I thought and still believe that it contained treasure. It did contain TREASURE ISLAND. Through the front door the librarian's desk was to the right. As I remember, the first room contained primarily reference books. The room to the left was for adult fiction. The middle room contained juvenile fiction and the room in the far back was the children's section. The front porch ran the width of the building and a large steamer trunk, that looked big enough to live in, sat on the porch. A slot in the top was for dropping in returned books. That's the way I remember it. I think that library was demolished in 1969 and replaced by the current building paid for primarily by donations from Malden's citizens.

The old house was the library of my youth. My older sister, Margaret, worked there at one time. I recall spending a great deal of time in that library, and it was there that I discovered science fiction. I still look for something to read by Lester Del Ray or Ray Bradbury among others. The librarian was a formidable lady named Mrs. Prentice who was always kind to me, but she ran a very tight ship (or library with a steamer trunk). I remember being questioned at length by her when I attempted to check out TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA by Jules Verne. I was only nine years old, and the book was in the adult section. Mrs. Prentice could be tough on her patrons. She kept a special section behind her desk which contained books that she thought needed a special eye and was strictly for "adults only." One of these was a book called PEYTON PLACE. I don't believe anybody under forty years of age ever laid hands on that book. You would have had to match wills with Mrs. Prentice in order to check it out.

As I said, that library was demolished in 1969, and here's what I think happened. That old steamer trunk disappeared into the bowels of the Dunklin County Library, and the untouched copy of PEYTON PLACE went with it. The hardest code to crack is one based on a specific edition of a specific book. You must know both the book, the page number of the book, and then the word count on that page to decipher the code. I believe that our current library director and our local library board member found that trunk and got inside with an untouched copy of PEYTON PLACE and used a code based on that book to determine the location of our new library. I don't know anything to the contrary, and if you don't think its possible then ask Grace Metalious.

The financial report is as follows:

June 15, 2012Balance $1,435,862.03
Revenues $96,367.26
Expenses $125,971.77
June 22, 2012Balance $1,406.247.52

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