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Prendergast Library Board Honors Past President

The James Prendergast Library Board of Trustees has honored its former president.

In March during an online meeting, the board presented a plaque and a gift to Joni Blackman, Prendergast trustee, for the three years she served as president of the board from 2018 to 2020. During her tenure as president, the library faced many challenges like finding an annual sustainable funding source, the COVID-19 pandemic and expanding the number of current trustees.

“Thank you so much for everything you did,” said Dan Hickman, Prendergast board president. “You really shepherd the library though several rough years in a row and we are very grateful for all of your hard work.”

Blackman, who is also the Chautauqua Blind Association executive director, thanked the other trustees for their work on subcommittees that helped with the challenges the library faced, like receiving the approval from taxpayers last June to fund the facility $350,000 annually.

“It was a group effort, that’s for sure,” she said.

After the meeting, Blackman told The Post-Journal she removed herself from contention to continue being the board’s president because she feels the person heading the group should reside in Jamestown. Blackman resides in Warren, Pa.

In October 2020, the library board approved a new residency requirement that two-thirds of its members should be residents in the Jamestown Public School District, and if the number of board members is not divisible by three, than more than two-thirds of its members should live in the district.

“I had two goals when I took the office — to reduce the endowment draw and to regain our municipal funding. Both happened in the first term,” she said. “Once the municipal funding was passed, I felt the organization needed a president who resided in Jamestown. I am happy to continue to serve on the board given I work in Jamestown and see the huge value the library brings to the city and the surrounding towns and villages that use it.”

Another goal of Blackman’s as president was to increase the number of trustees. In January 2018, there were only six members on the board, with a maximum of 15 possible. The board currently has 11 members.

In other business, the library will host the inaugural Jim Roselle Community Scavenger Hunt from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 22. Annie Greene, library director, said the event is a great way to honor “a true library lover and community ambassador.”

The cost to participate will be $20 per a person, with children under 12 free. Greene said the scavenger hunt will consist of participants visiting downtown businesses and attractions so they can learn more about Jamestown. She said the online platform, GooseChase, will organize and run the digital scavenger hunt experience. Prizes will include all participants receiving a library tote bag and a gift certificate for the book sale. Other prizes will be gift certificates, tickets and gift items from local businesses and attractions.

The library board also heard about The Prendergast Poetry Project that is open to students in kindergarten through eighth grade in the Jamestown area. The theme for 2021 is “Community.”

The contest’s goal is to allow students to reflect creatively on the theme of community and how they experience community in their lives. Students need to submit their poems before April 15. The poems should include the student’s name, grade, school and either teacher or parent contact information. Only one entry per student.

All participants will receive a certificate and a free book. The poems will also be published in an online chapbook available to students, their families and the community. Three students — one from kindergarten through second grades, one from third through fifth grades, and one from sixth through eighth grades — will be chosen as overall winners and will receive special recognition, as well as a gift certificate to the local independent bookstore, Off the Beaten Path.

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