The Benton Review

Open House scheduled

New addition and memorial tree dedication recognized



The Otterbein Public Library (OPL) has been in the center of Otterbein’s community, with good reason, as long as it was originally established in the heart of the downtown (23 East 1st Street, in what had been the former Allen Robinette blacksmith forge and boarding house at First and South Main Streets). From early beginnings – via public, vigorous, subscription drives from 1919, to when the original, OPL’s permanent-brick structure was 1934-constructed by the PWA (Public Works Administration, under then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt), the site witnessed a 1963 addition by the local American Legion Post #125—before former library director Cindy Rifner led the way, with a strong drive for a new and greatly-expanded facility.

A new OPL library addition has recently received the finishing touches. Otterbein Public Library (OPL) Director Latisha Provo has publically announced that the library’s official, community Open House to thank the community of Otterbein and all involved in making this project happen will be celebrated on Saturday, August 26, starting with a 3:30 p.m., memorial-tree dedication on the new north side and adjacent to the parking lot; the open house is to follow from 4-6 p.m., and all are invited to join Director Provo, her OPL library staff, the OPL’s Board of Trustees, and the Friends of the Otterbein Public Library for light refreshments within this new library—and community-serving – addition’s celebration.


In this quest for creating a modernized learning center that was enhanced by ample, educational and meeting spaces, the 2004 OPL library board featured these outstanding community citizens: Jolene Brummet, Joe and Jim Gick, Janet Martin, Stacey Minier, Dick and Mary Moore, and Wilma Mills), ground-broken at this identical location on a bitterly-frigid, 2004 January afternoon, and eventual constructed at this same location; Otterbein’s new and vastly-expanded library to increasingly accommodate the 21st century would be officially opened and dedicated in November of 2004.

A new phase, underway ever since conversations and and shared ideas were commenced some 5 years in the past, with more behind-the-scenes planning over the last 3 years; even as Otterbein’s Public Library served as the focal, displaying point for last year’s 2022 Sesquicentennial Celebration (1872-2022) by hosting the “150 Otterbein” project (coordinated and led by Brooke Sauter) , more was coming together for a planned addition that was to move onto property to the north (at East Oxford and S. Main Sts., a former, “brick-quonset-hut”-shaped site for the long-established Bryant Auto Sales and Repairs and demolished in 2021-22) to make way for this added OPL structure.


In the “post-pandemic” era, Otterbein’s Public Library checked out 14,348 items and gained 52 new library patrons. The OPL also had 90 live and recorded videos available on Facebook and You Tube. Wi-fi was available 24/7, and the OPL had e-learners lining our sidewalk and parked in cars, as well as patronizing the library itself. The OPL had 234 in-person programs with the largest ones (of course) being Halloween and Christmas—which, respectively, brought in 291 trick-or-treaters and 114 kids and their families get their pictures taken with Santa Claus and his reindeer.

However, the most impressive demand for even more library space was illustrated by usage of the Otterbein Public Library’s expansive conference room; more people than ever need space—the OPL rooms in 2020 were used 88 times by 2,368 patrons of the OPL. Some of these uses included Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, the local Rotary Club, the Post #125 Martin Kennedy American Legion, drum practice for the Sheltered Reality musical group, the primary and general elections, the Benton School Corporation’s school-board meetings, the band boosters, the area’s PTO, KAC Components, training, proctored exams, alumni meetings, the Benton Soccer Association, tutoring, Tri Kappa, town water meetings, Benton and Tippecanoe Counties’ 4-H Groups, other open houses, graduation parties, birthday parties, baby showers, wedding showers, home-schooling groups, and court-ordered, supervised visitation.


The actual foundation for adding onto the Otterbein Public Library emerged when the OPL was granted from IDEM (Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management) a grant for a “Phase I, Environmental Site Assessment, being confirmed by the Brownfield Program. If property (which the library had to own) was available, the facility would be eligible for a POSI (Petroleum Orphan Site Initiative). This developed into a $300,000 remediation through IDEM’s Brownfield Program. (It had been determined previously that the new OPL was not constructed to be able to withstand the weight of a second floor—which would have required structure supports, sacrificing the natural lighting through the positioned windows, removing the roof and adding new trusses; this approach would have necessitated the library to have been possibly closed for months and everything inside removed, and this only illustrates all the planning that went into this achievement.)

The obvious objective for acquisition of more constructional space was the adjacent, vacated Bryant building. The timetable reveals that a “team” of professionals—Indianapolis’ Baker-Tilly financial consultants, Ice Miller (legal consultants for public-bond projects, Fowler lawyer / Otterbein Town Attorney Jud Barce, and Keystone Architects began to organize in January, 2021. The Bryants (Roy and Sherry) were contacted the next month (February, 2021), as negotiations started at this juncture and continued through May (of 2021) to purchase the Bryant structure (while the Phase I grant was awarded); this was obtained on June 1, 2021.

With the OPL’s ownership of this brick building a fact, from June-August (summer of ’21) the POSI grant came through, the older structure was asbestos-tested, contacts were made with both the Benton Co. and the Tippecanoe Co. Councils, bids were sought for demolition of the former Bryant building, more team meetings were conducted, and an architect: Keystone— now, part of Cordogan Clark of Lafayette– was hired. After the demotion firm was selected (Sept. 2, ’21), the removal of the Bryant building started on Sept. 20 (in coordination with the underground storage tank’s removal, beginning on Oct. 11) and the structure’s demolition was concluded a month later: on October 20. As bonds were sold on November

7 and subsequently received a month afterwards (December 7), this was tucked in amid a busy phase: from Sept. 2021 through spring of 2022, which carried more negotiations, along with final designs and drawings for the new library addition.

The actual groundbreaking ceremony for what would become both the Otterbein Public Library’s new addition – this new space added boasts a Friends of the Library Cafe, two meeting spaces, and an area designed to host the library’s Esports program, plus the north-situated, 20-spaced, asphalted parking lot–commenced during the summer of 2022; this same, previous summer was climaxed via the August 4-7 “Otterbein 150” (to honor the Otterbein community’s Sesquicentennial Celebration) and 2022 Summer Street Festival.

Otterbein Public Library (OPL) Director Latisha Provo has reflected, in summation as she looks back through all accomplished amid the process of organizing, planning, and finally constructing this new, structural enhancement: “We went from not having a project—because we couldn’t build upward, to an opportunity we couldn’t pass up (one that enabled us, the OPL, to increase our footprint in the local community), to an environmental cleanup project, to the possibility of a project that would improve the environment— and to where we could beautify a main corner in the heart of downtown Otterbein and allow engagements within our community, externally as well as internally.”


Four “Arnold Columnar” tulip trees (Indiana’s state tree) have been core-planted, each one to contain and represent a special honoring and/or remembrance during Saturday, Aug. 26’s special, pre-open house, tree dedication at/around the new, northside parking lot.

One tulip tree has been sponsored by the Friends of the Otterbein Public Library (OPL), dedicated in honor of local donors Roy and Sherry Bryant—without whose generous support, this new addition wouldn’t have been possible.

Otterbein’s Rotary Club also sponsored a new tree, one that honors and reflects on the memories of all members who have passed on as well as present Otterbein Rotarians. The Benton Central CAAP (Community Activism Awareness Program) further donated a tree, in memory of Rebekah Jean Knox; a gesture of special, family affection will come from her sister Amara Knox, who will read her personal composition of a dedication poem: entitled, “Beloved Sister.”

The BC Super High Mileage Club joined with the CAAP to sponsor a second tree, to be dedicated in memory of Madison (“Madie”) Hall, and her beloved parents: Lee J. and Felisha Hall. Sandy Herre, Benton Central Educator/ Faculty Sponsor for CAAP, is to read a dedication poem: “Our Shooting Star: Remembering Madison Grace Hall” as part of this ceremony. Placards are to be additionally available, in promoting CAAP ‘s mission, as they are to be engraved with this inscription, “BC CAAP: Rooted in Benton County.”


While there might be a number of persons to credit with their roles towards the culmination of NEW library-addition project, OPL director Latisha Provo wanted to particularly thank these following: the inhouse Otterbein Public Library’s Board of Trustees (Mike Humphrey, president; Brad Smith, vice-pres.; Cindy Honegger, secretary; Jamie Wilson, treasurer; plus Scott Davis, Jeannette Gall, and Suzy Scott), the Benton Community School Board, the Benton County Council, Tippecanoe Co.’s Council, the Appointed Board of Directors for the OPL Building Corporation (president Sally Stacey, vice-pres./ treasurer Sandra Sattler, and secretary Cheyenne Hutsell), and Friends of the Otterbein Public Library (Amanda Knowles, president; Jenny Lambert, vp; Lise Maddox, secretary; and treasurer Bobbie Schmid).

Provo has special thanks for the OPL’s current employees— Byron Alberts, Elliott Hadley, Diane Janz, Chris McCallister, Hannah McCallister, Stephanie Musser, Dory Provo, and Brooke Sauter.

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