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Brasher volunteers moving forward with new library petition drive

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BRASHER FALLS — Volunteers who hope to create a branch library in Brasher Falls are heading back out on the petition trail, while an attorney for the North Country Library System reviews the procedures they used the first time around to gather signatures.

Roger A. Linden, Potsdam, the attorney for the town of Brasher, had questioned the validity of the petitions during a hearing last week because volunteer Michele A. Ellis-Porcaro had signed her name on each page of signatures, including those she had not witnessed personally. She said it was a misunderstanding about the proper procedure.

Among signatures she did not witness were those gathered at the local IGA supermarket and LBSH Housing and during a local teacher conference. Those signatures had been witnessed by other qualified volunteers, who should have had their signatures notarized at the bottom of their respective pages, according to Mr. Linden.

Library officials needed 80 signatures — representing 10 percent of the Brasher residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election — to get the proposition for a branch library on the November ballot. The proposed library would be in Crapser Hall in the former Boothe Building in downtown Brasher Falls.

Altogether, they turned in 11 pages with 130 signatures, but indicated in their cover letter that 89 were residents from the town of Brasher.

Mr. Linden also noted that the resolution accompanying the petitions was dated June 11, but signatures were not collected until July and August.

“It says the petitions have already been submitted to the town. That could not have been,” he said during Tuesday’s hearing.

Because of the confusion over which signatures would be declared valid and which would not, Brasher Town Clerk Ellen M. Fukes said last week that none of the petitions would be accepted, meaning organizers will have to start the process again.

But Massena Public Library Director Elaine A. Dunne-Thayer said she hasn’t received that word, and the library is waiting for a review to be completed by the North Country Library System’s attorney. In the meantime, organizers are working on the premise that they need to gather 50 signatures in approximately two weeks.

The library’s board of trustees does not meet again until Sept. 10, the day organizers must have the necessary signatures, but Ms. Dunne-Thayer said there could be a special meeting to talk about the petition issue.

Volunteers, meanwhile, are ready to hit the road again to get petitions signed, the library director said.

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