Library, litigation to be discussed

Published 2:44 pm Thursday, March 23, 2017

Farmville Mayor David E. Whitus has called a special meeting of town council for Friday, March 24, at 1 p.m.

According to the notice of the special meeting, council members are set to “discuss and take possible action on the naming of the Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library in honor of Barbara Johns.”

The council is also planning on going into closed session to discuss, with legal counsel and staff members, “probable litigation, where such consultant or briefing in open meeting would adversely affect the negotiating or litigating posture of the Town of Farmville.”

According to the notice, the council could also consider “any other matter that may come before council.”

In early March, the council agreed to reach out to county officials with the idea to name the library after Johns.

Ward C Councilman and Vice Mayor A.D. “Chuckie” Reid initiated the discussion during the council’s March 1 work session.

“(We) want to get with the county to see if we can name the library after Barbara Johns,” he said.

During its Feb. 8 council meeting, Mayor David Whitus appointed Reid chair of a committee to explore opportunities in recognizing Johns. Ward B Councilwoman Sally Thompson and At-Large Councilman Dan Dwyer also serve on the committee.

The committee, which now includes Ward D Councilman Donald Hunter, has since met and will meet with county officials Thursday, March 30, at 6:30 p.m. The committee made no formal recommendation, “but several members spoke in support of naming the library after … Johns,” according to Town Clerk Lisa Hricko.

“I had talked to Gerry (Spates, town manager,) earlier … about the Barbara Johns project. I talked to Dan, and I haven’t talked to Sally, we haven’t met,” Reid said before raising the library as a possibility.

“Yeah, I think that’s a very interesting recommendation,” Whitus responded. “I did not know … that she was a librarian. Her life’s work was (as) a librarian. And, so, I think it would be most appropriate to name the library after her. But that’s a town-county (conversation).”

“It has to be joint,” Thompson said.

“We need to meet with them and see,” Reid noted, referencing county officials.

Johns worked in Philadelphia Public Schools in libraries for 24 years before she died in 1991.

“I think it’s very appropriate,” Whitus said of naming the library after Johns, reiterating what he said earlier.

The 16-year-old Johns led a group of students to walk out of the R.R. Moton High School in protest of the dilapidated conditions in 1951, paving the way for a lawsuit that led to the desegregation of the nation’s public schools.