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Annual Newsletter - May 2005

In 1973, the nineteenth century courthouse serving Haralson County was replaced by a modern building. Rather than see the demolition of this magnificent old structure, the Haralson County Historical Society was formed to rehabilitate and preserve it.

The County granted the Society a 30-year lease to accomplish this task. After a million dollars and thousands of uncounted hours of volunteer labor, the Historic Courthouse became the thriving community center it is today, home of the PINES-qualified Buchanan-Haralson Public Library, a branch of the West Georgia Regional Library system. The library offers friendly and efficient service thanks to manager Jana Gentry and staff.

In the last year, impressed by the worthy stewardship of the Society, Haralson County granted it another long-term lease. And the Georgia State Senate passed Senate Resolution 8EX, which singled out the Society for this and other accomplishments, a solemn honor.

During winter, more work was done to improve the Historic Courthouse. The marble floor entry atrium was completely rebuilt, in the hopes that it too, will endure over an entire century, as had the old one. In spring a water fountain was added to this lobby, offering free refreshment to visitors.

Aware of the rising cost of motorized transportation, the Society installed a bicycle rack near this building entrance last fall. A great many electrical outlets were added to the exterior campus in spring, to help with fairs. Additional exterior lighting improves safety.

Of course, numerous cosmetic changes have been made as well. Sign plates now mark the historic uses of the various chambers in the building, and a guided tour is in preparation. Several new art works grace the walls of the building. Anticipating greater use, the two courtroom antechambers upstairs were painted, and have seen recent donations of attractive furniture. The Society welcomes queries for use of its facilities as meeting space.

The courtroom itself was frequently used by the Summer Reading Program of the public library, providing free wholesome fun for the county's children, as well as the encouragement of good habits. It was also the venue for a winter showing of the Buchanan Masons film Buchanan on Parade, which depicts everyday life in the county a half-century ago. The film is now also viewable on any of the PCs in the main reading room of the library downstairs and was partly shown at the Senior Valentine's Day celebration in Bremen during winter. When additional scholarship is complete, the film will be captioned and copies offered for sale.

With the generous help from West Georgia Regional Library assistant director Roni Tewksberry, a chapter of Friends of the Library was organized over winter to raise additional capital funds for the library and publicize its services to the community. Led by the Rev. John Norton, it recently held its annual exposition in the courtroom. Attendees were offered free computer-readable CDs holding the full text of over 600 classic works of literature.

The towns of Haralson County and some surrounding areas are blessed with the availability of low-latency terrestrial broadband Internet service from a variety of carriers, including both ADSL and cable modem service. But most of the county does not yet enjoy such service.

That's why great effort was made in the last year to expand the library's ability to make broadband (high-speed) Internet more available and useful to the public. Knowledgeable persons will gain access to services they need now, and others will gain familiarity with the advantages of such services - hastening the day it becomes profitable to do county-wide universal service.

The PCs in the main reading room now can read and write half a dozen types of solid-state memory cards, making download and upload of data with the Internet simple. This is especially important given the increasing use of PDAs, digital cameras and audio players. Knowledgeable users can also ask to borrow an optical disk writer to "burn" their own CD and DVD disks. A full-color flatbed scanner was deployed, as was an additional PC. Users can now choose between PCs running Windows 98 and Windows XP.

In addition, the library now supports a WiFi radio "hotspot" 24/365. Users can bring laptop computers into the reading room and attach by radio link to a broadband Internet connection automatically. This lets the library share out its connection to more users at the same time. The youngest wireless laptop PC user is only 11 years old. Access is even available outside library hours at limited places on the exterior campus. Now one can patronize the newly opened eatery in the square and cross the street for broadband Internet access, even after dark.

Under the leadership of Mary Jarrell, progress was made in organizing the Genealogy Library which will become a Special Collection of the public library. It not only includes vital and civic records, but also many scholarly works of special local and regional interest. A PC was recently donated for dedicated use by this facility.

An official Advisory Board of the library was chartered, and now works under the leadership of its Chair, the Rev. Dr. Terrell McBrayer, to provide community input into improvement of the library. Recently, it supported installation of electronic copies of Encyclopedia Britannica on all four main reading room PCs. This includes two special editions re-edited for use by younger and older schoolchildren, respectively.

The library has also added audio cassette and book kits to its collection within the last year, to especially serve young folks. Further, it installed software on its four main reading room PCs to read aloud screen content to users who can borrow headsets - or bring their own. Troubled readers and those with limited sight need no longer feel the library and its world of text is not for them, too.

The Society elected new officers for two-year terms in the last year, led by Mrs.Karen Higgins. President Higgins is especially eager to increase participation in the Society by young people.

The Society especially supports the cultural and commercial life of county seat Buchanan by sponsoring events in town every year. Mrs. Peggy Kimball, assisted by Ann Bannister, produces these wonderful activities. In 2005 they are:

  • Spring Fair on the Square - Sat May 21, 8-6
  • Fall Fair on the Square - Sat Sept 17, 8-6
  • Pumpkin Caper - Thur Oct 27, 5:30-7:30PM
  • Festival of Trees - 1-5 Dec

The Historic Courthouse itself is the home of local cultural groups. These include the Quilting Circle ladies and a new adult art group, the Haralson Watercolor Society. Both groups meet weekly.

The Society published two books in the last year. These are the reprint of the (1983) Haralson County History Book and an entirely new work, Haralson County, Georgia Cemeteries a meticulous census of all the known cemeteries in Haralson County as of late 2000. Both works remain in stock and a special discount is available when they are purchased together. Walk-in sales can be made during regular library hours.

The Society also entered the field of video production with creation of a feature which records the re-dedication of the Historic Courthouse and preserves speeches by prominent community leaders, past and present, including the Honorable Tom Murphy and Honorable Nathan Dean.

The Society now has a new, easy-to-remember home for its Web site: (sic.) The "hc", of course, stands for Haralson County.

The Web site archives past issues of our newsletter, historical essays and photos, and detailed notices of upcoming events. It now also sports a calendar of events, among many other useful links. Those averse to Internet use can call the library after hours and hear an audio message instead: dial 770-646-3369. Why not add it to your "speed-dial" list now?

We encourage everyone interested in the history of Haralson County and its preservation to become members. As you see, our activities often extend beyond history per se to enriching cultural life in general. People from every walk of life, whether newcomers or old-timers, contribute to our Society, and we are committed to making everyone feel welcome. We meet regularly at the Historic Courthouse, the second Monday of each month at 6:30PM, Decembers excepting. Y'all come join us next time!!!

- Ron Feigenblatt, Publicity Chair