Genealogical Society Has Two Offers For Site Of Library

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The Northern Gila County Genealogical Society, which helps people trace their roots and track down family members, is nearing the end of a 20-year search for a home of its own.

Members of the community have offered to donate property and a 12,000-square-foot building to the nomadic organization, which has operated out of borrowed closets and donated building space for more than 20 years.

The society is facing eviction from its most recent library building at 708 S. Ponderosa -- a 700-square-foot trailer that has been on loan to the society from Payson Regional Medical Center since 1994.

Society members voted last week on two land donation offers -- one near the corner of Beeline Highway and Frontier Street and the other near Manzanita Manor in west Payson.

A local contractor, who wants to remain anonymous, has offered to build the society a 12,000-square-foot building free of charge if the society can secure the land.

The contractor will make the final site selection within the next few weeks, society relocation chairman Lettie Cale said.

"Things are looking better now than they have for a long time," she said.

But society members aren't waiting idly by for a decision, Cale said. Volunteers have been holding yard sales, art and craft sales and other fund-raisers to raise money for moving expenses. So far, they've collected about $7,000.

The society will have to pay the town's building development fees, which will cost at least $3,000 for water and sewer connections alone, Cale said.

In the meantime, the society continues to operate its South Ponderosa research library, which features nearly 3,000 volumes including 100 family histories; cemetery, pension and marriage records; a state phone book collection and a complete local newspaper collection, on a month-by-month basis.

Once the society relocates to a permanent site, volunteers plan to link the library to the Internet to expand its research base.

The library is open to the public for research from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

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