"The carpet was covered with two inches of water, with rivers flowing through the library," La Vergne Library Director Donna Bebout explained to Mayor Dennis Waldron and the aldermen last Tuesday night.
The day disaster struck, "The cavalry came to the rescue," said Bebout. "Our city administrative team, including Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Streets, Fleet, Codes and Storm Water, and many others."
The army of city workers flooded into the water-logged library and saved more than 35,000 books and media from damage, as well as computers and library bookshelves, in a five-hour rush. The water, which was clean, thankfully, flowed from a damaged backflow preventer.
"We are looking forward, hopefully, to some new carpet, and a new heating and air conditioning system," said Bebout. "I appreciate the support the library board has given. Many of you have come over and patted me on the back and wiped a few tears away, and it's appreciated."
Bebout was taken with how city staff rallied to her library's aid.
"The camaraderie really showed that day, the coming together of every one of us. It really struck home with all the library staff. They rescued us. We really appreciate every one of you."
Parks & Recreation Director A.C. Davis and his team are spearheading a range of construction and upgrade projects during the library's closure.
"The guys are doing an outstanding job over there. You are going to be surprised when it's finished," Davis said. "It's going to look like a brand-new library. We've upgraded the LED lighting in the main part of the library, modified the existing plumbing for a new backflow mechanism, and have relocated the reference desk and have modified it."
The tentatively scheduled reopening date for the library is the second week of May, subject to change. In the meantime, all storytimes and special events are cancelled, including the very popular American Girls event, tentatively rescheduled to August.
La Vergne Police Chief praises local sports hero, coaches
"There is a young man who has really excelled this year in one particular event," said Chief of Police Mike Walker, calling Jeremy Stansbury, La Vergne High School swimming coach, to the mic to introduce one of his students, Telly Coleman, Jr.
"This is the first time I've actually had a student athlete that has gone through and won the Rutherford County Championship; it's the first time for La Vergne High School," said Stansbury.
Coleman won the 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard fly in the county event before going on to regionals, where he finished in the top ten in two events.
"He went to UT Knoxville and qualified for state in six events, competed in two and was in the top fifty in both of those events," said Stansbury. "Coleman then went down to Auburn and competed in the Southeastern Championship, and won the 50-yard freestyle, the 50-yard free, and the 100-yard fly."
Next weekend he'll go to North Carolina to swim in the sectionals, and if he finishes in the top finals there, Coleman will move on to the futures.
"He's done all this as a freshman," said Stanbury.
The mayor, aldermen and citizens present responded with a standing ovation for the La Vergne High School freshman.
"I'd like to thank all of you for supporting me in my career as a freshman at La Vergne High School," said Coleman, while his mother, Dr. Takasha Stewart, looked on proudly. "This is the process. I look to build upon my successes and maybe bring a State Championship home to La Vergne and to La Vergne High School."
"If it wasn't for both coaches, Coach Stansberry, who coaches the high school team, and Coach Gareth (Sweetman), who coaches a year-round team also based in La Vergne, then we wouldn't be standing here today," said appreciative dad Terry Coleman, Sr. "Coach Gareth taught him how to swim, and Coach Stansberry donated his time and energy to La Vergne Middle School."
Swimming is a strong program at La Vergne High School, according to Stansbury, as the Wolverines have one of the best high school swimming pools in the area, including a high-tech scoreboard and timing system donated by an area family. Sweetman is the proprietor of Sweetman Swim School of La Vergne.
Retiring Smyrna Airport Manager Lois Vallance honored
Waldron and the aldermen honored another outstanding member of their city Tuesday night. Lois Vallance was recognized with a resolution proclaiming her 23 years of distinguished service at the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport, where she serves as the airport manager for just a few more weeks until she retires March 31.
The city document especially calls out Vallance's contributions to the safe and efficient operation of the airport, and notes her role in it winning Tennessee Airport of the Year in 2000 and 2011, as well as Tennessee Airport Management of the Year in 2011. Vallance was also instrumental in the Red Carpet Award for customer service and operational excellence, performed keystone work in the production of the Great Tennessee Airshow, and plays a critical role in significant airport projects worth more than $30 million.
"Whereas Mrs. Vallance's unwavering hard work, leadership, commitment, dedication and overall interest in the Smyrna Airport and her community set an example for all who serve," Waldron proclaimed. "Therefore, be it resolved the city of La Vergne Board of Mayor and Aldermen expresses its sincere appreciation for the contribution Mrs. Vallance has made toward the development of the Smyrna Airport."