New director vows Walkerton library will stay open

The public library in Walkerton is back up and running, although not quite back to normal.

“We’re paying bills that come in and going day by day,” said Traci Stewart. “We are planning on moving forward and staying open and being here for the public.”

In May, the former library director was fired and the library was forced to close for a month while the FBI apparently conducted an investigation. The library reopened June 15th and has been staffed entirely by volunteers ever since.

Now the library is ready to turn the page. On Monday, Traci Stewart will take over as the library’s new paid director. “Well, we thought everything was fine and then we were shocked at the news that you know, you've heard about, the taxes and everything. And in order to make sure, in order to make sure everything was stopped, we had to close our doors quickly and we opened them as soon as we possibly could. We were very dedicated to keeping the building open and available, and we're just real pleased that we're back,” said Stewart.

The library owes the Internal Revenue Service some $47,000 in unpaid withholding taxes. To begin collecting on the debt, the IRS initially moved to seize all of the library’s share of revenue from the spring property tax collection.

Eventually, the IRS decided to allow the library to collect about $17,000. That’s 38 percent of what the library was set to receive, but apparently enough to allow the library to remain open.

“I was wondering what was going on,” said library patron Joyce Sullivan. “I kept checking back every day trying to figure out why was it closed?”

Stewart is now a member of the library board of directors. She will resign that post to take over as library director on Monday.

“Well, I think every community needs a library. The kids need books that they can open and a lot of, a lot of our patrons come in to use the computers for doing their unemployment things that they have to do,” said Stewart.

Stewart could not talk much about the library’s past problems. A spokesman for the Indiana State Board of Accounts said that an updated library audit was being processed, and was not ready to release to the public.

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