More than two years after it first received federal funding, work was expected to resume this week on finishing the new Eastpoint Library.

The announcement construction would resume was well-received at the Friends of the Franklin County Public Library’s Nov. 14 annual meeting at the Eastpoint firehouse.

Ellen Ashdown, secretary for the Friends, said PSBI, Inc., of Tallahassee, had been chosen to complete work on the project. The architect remains Ivan Johnson, of Johnson Peterson Architects, Tallahassee.

“The complex process and plethora of paperwork are over,” said Ashdown. “The USDA-funded completion of the library is beginning!”

Ashdown said the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development initially awarded the Eastpoint library project a $200,000 grant and $177,850 low-interest loan in Sept. 2010, to be matched by $342,000 from the Friends group from a previous grant, business, and community support encompassing donations and volunteer labor.

Ashdown said the $342,000 funded the land purchase, permitting, surveying, clearing and site preparation, access driveway, drainage ponds, and purchase and erection of the 5,000-square-foot Vulcan steel building, including exterior doors and windows, plumbing and electrical-ready. 

But when completion of the project was bid in Dec. 201, the winning bid for the build-out work exceeded the USDA award amount, Ashdown said. The build-out encompassed finishing grading, topsoil, sod and landscaping, limestone base and asphalt paving, partitions, drywall, cabinetry and millwork, acoustical ceilings, insulation, carpet, vinyl tile, painting, book drop, heating and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical outlets and lighting. 

She said PSBI's eventual winning bid was $530,689, which included furniture. By "value engineering," which included revising specifications to cut costs, primarily replacing asphalt paving with limerock and reducing two large doors, the shortfall was reduced to $102,500, she said.

After reapplication to USDA for that amount, the Friends received a supplemental award of $65,000 in an outright grant and $37,500 in a loan, Ashdown said. The total award from USDA now is $480,350, comprising a $265,000 grant and $215,350 loan, she said.

The Friends have also received support from the Apalachicola Riverkeeper and the Northwest Florida Water Management District to restore the wetlands on the 13-acre site and to create a nature walk.

Ashdown said completion is expected in three to six months.

Three new board members - Anna Carmichael, Marabeth Farmer and Christine Hinton - were elected at the annual meeting for three-year terms running 2013-2015: Celeste Wall is retiring as a board member. 

Current Friends’ officers include President Joyce Estes, Vice President Carmichael, Secretary Ashdown, and Treasurer Uta Hardy, as well as directors Hinton, Bert Hicks, John Sink Barbara Yonclas and County Librarian Glenda Ondracek.