Bartlett questions naming authority

Published 2:10 pm Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors discussed the renaming of the Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library to honor Barbara Johns on Tuesday, coming to a consensus that the county has no authority to make a decision regarding the matter.

Barbara Rose Johns

“Before we move forward with the naming of the library, we need to understand the governance of the Central Virginia Regional Library (CVRL). That is who operates the libraries in both Prince Edward and Buckingham County,” County Administrator Wade Bartlett said during the Tuesday meeting.

Wade Bartlett

Bartlett reported the CVRL Board had full authority over the renaming of the library, according to a contract signed between library board and member localities involved in the agreement.

“There is nothing in that contract that talks about any ability for any member to rename those libraries,” Bartlett said. “The only power afforded to the town and county in that contract is the authority to appoint one member each to that regional board of trustees,” Bartlett said. “Therefore, per the contract, I do not believe the town or the county or both combined have the authority to rename the library.”

On April 23, 1951, Johns led a student walkout of the R.R. Moton High School in Farmville, protesting the county school board’s lack of action regarding unequal educational facilities. The strike would lead to the five-year closure of public schools in the county and the Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit, in which the U.S. Supreme Court would order the desegregation of all public schools nationwide.

Bartlett said the building in which the library is housed is owned outright by Farmville — despite a recent Farmville press release stating it was jointly owned by the town and county, which he cited.

Farmville District 701 Supervisor Jim Wilck asked supervisors to wait until the Farmville Town Council held its meeting Wednesday to make a decision on what way to go about the renaming (see “Library named after Johns,” A1). Wilck’s statement was prompted by Bartlett requesting a motion on how to go about the renaming.

“Then we’ll know more about our choices,” Wilck said.

Jim Wilck

Bartlett said another possibility was meeting with the CVRL Board to discuss the name change.

Rick Ewing, the director of the CVRL, said Bartlett’s comments were how he understood the contract as well.