Manchester library re-opens

7-year-old Lucas Foley, a first-grader at Manchester Elementary, was one of the first patrons in the door when the Manchester Library branch reopened on Wednesday after a five-month hiatus.  - Kaitlin Srohschein/Staff Photo
7-year-old Lucas Foley, a first-grader at Manchester Elementary, was one of the first patrons in the door when the Manchester Library branch reopened on Wednesday after a five-month hiatus.
— image credit: Kaitlin Srohschein/Staff Photo

The Manchester Library reopened on Wednesday for the first time since a major flood nearly destroyed it last Thanksgiving Day.

“It’s kind of like the Phoenix that rises from the ashes,” said Dee D’Haem, the branch manager. “To see it now is such a thrill. I think that patrons will be pleased that their support has gone to such a high-quality facility.”

But she didn’t feel so hopeful last Thanksgiving Day, she said.

Eric Cisney stopped by the library that day around noon to try to fix a broken vacuum cleaner and discovered the flood.

“I noticed that it was all steamed up and thought, ‘That’s unusual,’” he said.

Cisney went inside and saw there was “water just pouring out of the ceiling” from a burst pipe in the women’s restroom, he said.

The conference room “looked like a lake.”

Cisney spent the next 20 minutes looking for the valve to turn off the water.

“The shut-off valve was in the water meter box,” he said, “and the box was covered over.”

Eventually, though, he found the box and turned off the water.

Then, the cleanup began.

“Quick work by volunteers from the Friends of Manchester Library kept most of the lending collection in the library and the furnishings safe from damage,” according to a press release from Kitsap Regional Library.

They saved about 98 percent of the books, said D’Haem.

Kitsap Regional Library officials then called the building’s insurance company, paid for a flood cleanup company to bring in fans and dehumidifiers to the building and mitigate the water damage, Cisney said.

“It was a really noisy proposition for a while,” he said, while the fans and dehumidifiers helped dry the place out.

But not everything was salvaged. The flood caused $40,000 in damage.

Several local businesses pitched in to help mitigate the repair costs.

Ritzman Construction, the general contractor for the project, donated a lot of time to the effort.

“My husband and I both donated our time,” said Cheryl Ritzman. “I spent almost a full day, and my husband spent a lot of time.”

Mike Ritzman, Cheryl’s husband, typically charges about $45 per hour, and plans to claim a 55- to 66-hour donation for his library work on his tax return.

He actually contributed hundreds of hours, according to a press release from Kitsap Regional Library.

“I know he put way more into it than he’s writing off,” said Cheryl Ritzman.

Cheryl Ritzman said that she and her husband were inspired to be generous by the Friends of the Manchester Library, the nonprofit corporation that owns the building.

The Friends of the Manchester Library used the flood as an opportunity to improve and remodel the building.

Its projects included replacing the restroom fixtures and fans, reconfiguring the office, building a storage closet and replacing and painting the drywall.

The group also had to re-carpet the building, even though it had recently installed new carpet.

“The carpet was ruined,” said Cisney. “That was about 18,000 to 20,000 of carpet that had to be replaced.”

On the bright side, the group “chose color that looked a little better” the second time around, he said.

“The Friends raised more than $4,000 to help pay for the reconstruction and building improvements,” according to the press release.

And they donated their time as well as their money.

“Volunteers organized by (Friends of the Manchester Library) contributed about 70 person-hours painting the finish interior coat of paint after the contractor painted the primer throughout the interior of the building,” according to the press release.

And they weren’t the only ones who contributed their time.

Port Orchard Plumbing donated about $500 of work; Rock Solid Drywall donated about $600 of work; and the KRL Foundation helped fund the insurance deductible.

Rebecca Guthrie donated bookshelves for the Friends bookstore, which used to sit in the Bethel Avenue Book Co., until the company went out of business.

To celebrate the library’s reopening, the Friends of the Manchester Library plan to host a Grand Opening Celebration from 4 to 8 p.m. with a short program at 5:30 p.m., on April 21.

“Normally we wouldn’t be open at that time, but will be for the ceremony,” said D’Haem, who expects the night to involve “refreshments, a cake balloons.”



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