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Hundreds gather for unveiling of $8.5 million construction project ribbon cutting Jan. 11

This story has been updated

PHOTO BY DICK TRTEK - Surrounded by a crowd of children and community members, Mayor Mark Gamba prepares to cut the ribbon, officially opening the new Ledding Library in downtown Milwaukie. Ledding Library Director Katie Newell said it took a village to build the new library, and it appeared that most of the village turned up to take a gander at the new digs Saturday morning.

Several hundred adults and children crowded inside the building to witness the results of 20 years of planning, as city and county officials and library staff waited for the scissors to come out to cut the big, red ribbon.

"This has been a long time coming," Newell told the crowd.

PHOTO BY DICK TRTEK - Malea, 9, and Chloe, 8, use child-sized scissors to cut pieces of the red ribbon to take home as souvenirs at the reopening of the Ledding Library on Jan. 11. "The library board started the ball rolling in 1999 and we broke ground on Oct. 16, 2018," she said, adding that it is obvious that "this community loves its library."

Newell had a long list of people to thank, including every department in the city of Milwaukie, all dedicated library staff, and even some former staff members.

And most of all, she said, she wanted to thank library patrons for their patience in visiting the "pod palace," the temporary site where the library resided during construction.

"It is phenomenal that you stuck with us," Newell added.

Creating a home

Next up to speak was Ann Ober, Milwaukie city manager, who described Newell as an "incredible library director."

Ober noted that Newell took what was essentially a piece of construction equipment housing the temporary library and "created a home."

She thanked Leila Aman, library project manager, for "giving the city of Milwaukie the gift of her knowledge and expertise," and also expressed gratitude to Bill Monahan, former city manager.

PHOTO BY DICK TRTEK - Tom Hogan, who heads up the Ledding Library's poetry program, and Jane Rickenbaugh, a longtime instructor at Clackamas Community College, congratulate Ledding Library Director Katie Newell at the reopening ceremony. "Without him this (library) would not have happened," Ober said.

Milwaukie City Councilor Angel Falconer spoke next, saying that the new, 18,000-square-foot library was "worth the wait," and added thanks to Milwaukie voters for "trusting us to preserve this library's storied past."

Falconer also thanked Rep. Karin Power for securing additional funding for the $8.5 million project, and said she also was grateful for the work of the library board, the Ledding Library Task Force, the Friends of the Ledding Library, the library foundation, Dark Horse and the Library Art Selection Committee for showcasing "wonderful artists."

'Purpose-built library'

Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba was the last to speak, and said he had been thinking about the former library, which was essentially a collection of old buildings.

"This is the first purpose-built library in the city," he said, noting that like all new construction these days, the new building is energy-efficient.

"It's important that Milwaukie set the standard," Gamba said.

He then picked up the giant scissors, invited all the children to come forward and grab a pair of smaller scissors to help him cut the red ribbon. After that, the crowd surged forward to take a look at the soaring ceiling in the main room and admire the natural light streaming in.

After the official ribbon-cutting, some children enjoyed cutting a piece of the banner to take home as souvenirs.

Jeff Louden watched as his daughter, Chloe, 8, and her friend, Malea, 9, chopped up pieces of the red ribbon. Both girls said they could hardly wait to get their hands on some books.

In an adjoining room, Laurie Fugere held her 5-year-old granddaughter, Rosie, up high so she could look at the artworks on display.

She has five daughters who "grew up working at the library. My oldest, Emily Miller, works here now," she said.

As for the new building, Fugere had one word to describe it — gorgeous.

Visit the library

What: New Ledding Library is open

Where: 10660 S.E. 21st Ave., Milwaukie

Hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and

Saturday; and noon-6 p.m. Sunday.

Contact: Visit milwaukieoregon.gov/library or call 503-786-7580

This story has been updated from its original version online to correct the spelling of Laurie Fugere's name.


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