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story.lead_photo.caption Gwen Goodwin, from left, and her mother, Trish, and former Cushman Schools librarian Becky Wood, stands inside what will be the new community library at the former Cushman school building. Gwen, a fifth-grader at Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Batesville, raised more than $300 to help kick-start the library. - Photo by Staci Vandagriff

CUSHMAN — An idea for a community library inside the old Cushman Public Schools building is becoming a reality.

Becky Wood, who taught at Cushman for 35 years until the school consolidated with the Batesville School District in 2009, suggested to Cushman Mayor Joey Parks that part of the old school building could be used for a library.

“The Batesville School District acquired the Cushman campus after consolidation,” Wood said. “Within the past few months, Batesville deeded the campus back over to the city of Cushman. As a result, the city is going to use one of the buildings for a town hall. I suggested to the mayor that we put a library inside the same building.

“The council thought it was a good idea.”

Wood was the librarian at the Cushman school when it closed. She is currently founder and operator of the Cushman Heritage Museum.

“There are a lot of books left up there from the Cushman School Library,” Wood said. “We already have a start. We’ve also had a lot of books donated.”

Gwen Goodwin, a fifth-grader at Eagle Mountain Elementary School and the daughter of Josh and Trish Goodwin, wanted to help raise money for the library. Josh Goodwin is a member of the Cushman City Council.

“I just really wanted to help our community out,” Gwen said. “My dad is a member of the Cushman City Council, and he was talking about the library. I always loved to read.”

“Gwen Goodwin lives in Cushman, and her family are natives of Cushman,” Wood said. “She’s very responsible and community-minded. She’s in the EAST Program at Eagle Mountain. She decided she wanted her project to be to raise money to help with the library. She’s done an outstanding job.”

Gwen said she has raised more than $300.

“Our school, we have a hat-wearing day every Friday,” she said. “Some of that money came from hats.”

Trish Goodwin said students must pay at least $1 to wear a hat during the designated day.

“Also, we sat boxes around our school in each hallway,” Gwen said. “We had students put their money in an envelope, and we had them put their envelope in the box.”

Wood said the library already has a board of directors.

“In the building that they are going to use for the city, we’re going to use two of the large classrooms, and we’re going to put in a double doorway so we’ll have a large area for the library,” Wood said. “Volunteers will run it and staff it, raise money for it. It will be a community project. I’ve already had lots of people volunteer to help with it. It’s very exciting for our community.

“We want to reach out to all ages — children, as well as adults, and the older segment. That’s how we’re starting.”

Wood estimated that the library could open in two to three months.

“There is shelving on the walls in the other building not being used,” Wood said. “We plan to have those removed and put around the walls in the two classrooms we’re going to be using. We’ve got hundreds and hundreds of books to move from one building into the other. We need to do some maintenance inside the classrooms, and we’ll have to have the double-door construction done ahead of time.”

Staff writer Mark Buffalo can be reached at (501) 399-3676 or mbuffalo@arkansasonline.com.

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