VIDEO AND ARTICLE: Meeting On Future Of Latta Library

By Betsy Finklea
A meeting on the future of the Latta Library was held last Monday.
The question and topic of the meeting as posed in pre-meeting articles was “Should we renovate the library or build a new library in another location?”
The question comes about after the library was named as a recipient of a trust given by Dr. Francis Marion “Frank” McMillan, III, in his will.
According to his obituary and a previous article in The Dillon Herald, Dr. McMillan “worked as a college professor at the Universities of Alabama and Virginia. In 1970, he accepted a professorship with Augusta College and became Director of Special Education before retiring in 1997.” In his will, he left the Latta Library $450,000 for a children’s and adolescent reading room. At the public meeting, it was learned that the trust is now approximately $2.2 million.
Tommy Stephens, chairman of the Dillon County Library Board, led the meeting.
Other board members in attendance were Gayle Coleman, Vickie Graham, and Carolyn Lupo. Library Director Yolanda McCormick was also in attendance.
Debra Faulk, Vice-President of Philanthropic Services for Wells Fargo who is administering Dr. McMillan’s trust, was also present.
Faulk said as the trustee, they were bound and it was their duty to follow Dr. McMillan’s wishes, which she shared with those at the meeting. She said once the community makes their decision they would see how it matches with the wishes of the trust and move from there. Faulk said this was a process and takes time calling it a marathon and not a sprint. She said it was a very methodical process.
Faulk said the estate had been fully settled. Now they are opening a private foundation according to the wishes of Dr. McMillan. She said it can take up to 26 months to establish as trust, and they were well withing the timeline.
She read the wishes of Dr. McMillan directly from the trust. The trust in relation to the library says the following:
“From the principal of the Foundation, the Trustee shall construct and/or renovate the existing public library in Latta, South Carolina to create a reading room containing children’s and adolescent literature. The room and all materials furnishing the room provided by the Foundation shall remain in Latta, South Carolina even if the main branch of the county library moves to Dillon, South Carolina or some other location. In the event no public library exists in Latta, South Carolina, at the time of my death, the Trustee may use the trust principal to construct such a public library. I request the large oil portrait of me hang in the reading room or lobby of any nemeeting on the future of the Latta Library was held last Monday.
The question and topic of the meeting as posed in pre-meeting articles was “Should we renovate the library or build a new library in another location?”
The question comes about after the library was named as a recipient of a trust given by Dr. Francis Marion “Frank” McMillan, III, in his will.
According to his obituary and a previous article in The Dillon Herald, Dr. McMillan “worked as a college professor at the Universities of Alabama and Virginia. In 1970, he accepted a professorship with Augusta College and became Director of Special Education before retiring in 1997.” In his will, he left the Latta Library $450,000 for a children’s and adolescent reading room. At the public meeting, it was learned that the trust is now approximately $2.2 million.
Tommy Stephens, chairman of the Dillon County Library Board, led the meeting.
Other board members in attendance were Gayle Coleman, Vickie Graham, and Carolyn Lupo. Library Director Yolanda McCormick was also in attendance.
Debra Faulk, Vice-President of Philanthropic Services for Wells Fargo who is administering Dr. McMillan’s trust, was also present.
Faulk said as the trustee, they were bound and it was their duty to follow Dr. McMillan’s wishes, which she shared with those at the meeting. She said once the community makes their decision they would see how it matches with the wishes of the trust and move from there. Faulk said this was a process and takes time calling it a marathon and not a sprint. She said it was a very methodical process.
Faulk said the estate had been fully settled. Now they are opening a private foundation according to the wishes of Dr. McMillan. She said it can take up to 26 months to establish as trust, and they were well withing the timeline.
She read the wishes of Dr. McMillan directly from the trust. The trust in relation to the library says the following:
“From the principal of the Foundation, the Trustee shall construct and/or renovate the existing public library in Latta, South Carolina to create a reading room containing children’s and adolescent literature. The room and all materials furnishing the room provided by the Foundation shall remain in Latta, South Carolina even if the main branch of the county library moves to Dillon, South Carolina or some other location. In the event no public library exists in Latta, South Carolina, at the time of my death, the Trustee may use the trust principal to construct such a public library. I request the large oil portrait of me hang in the reading room or lobby of any new facility, as the case may be, beside the pictures of my mother and father I own at the time of my death. The room or new facility shall be called the REBECCA H. and FRANK M. MCMILLAN III READING ROOM (or BRANCH, if a new facility is constructed).
In the event the Trustee has property left over after constructing the facilities described above, the Trustee shall invest such remaining property as it deems appropriate and distribute the income therefrom, at least annually, to the public library in Latta, South Carolina to maintain the constructed facilities and/or provide books, movies, tapes, CDs and other learning materials for children and adolescents.”
Faulk said her job was to share information and that here job was very black and white. She said if there is a desire to move slightly outside of the boundary of what is in the trust, then they as trustees are not at liberty to make those decisions. She said that would be a decision for the courts and the attorney general. With this particular trust because the library is in South Carolina and the trust was in Georgia, they would have to work with both attorney generals.
Right now, she said, the trust is at $2.2 million with administrative charges coming out, but as monies were being invested, income was being generated. She said she can’t give that number as a certain because the market goes up and down. She said it was being invested wisely and prudently, but that the dollars fluctuate.
When asked if a new building (library) was built off-site if that would have to go to court, here answer was yes. She said they cannot go outside of the trust.
After the reading room was done, if there were remaining funds, five percent of the remaining funds would come to the library every year from the trust for the reading room.
She said that the community needed to come up with a plan and a budget that would be approved by the trust.
The next question was who was going to make the decision. Stephens said the library board and county council and city council would be involved. When asked again who would make the final recommendation, Stephens admitted that the library board would make the final recommendation.
There were a number of questions on how the trust could be used and discussion on topics such as flooding, which was a major part of the discussion. purchasing property on which to build the reading room, parking lots, etc. There was also discussion on possibly contacting the Carnegie Foundation to see if they could provide funds to address issues that cannot be addressed by the trust.
Shirley Kopituk, a relative of McMillan’s, said that when he thought of the library, he thought of this Carnegie library where the meeting was being held. “The library to him, meant here,” Kopituk said.
A. LaFon LeGette, Jr., said Dr. McMillan loved Latta or he would not have done this. He said he believed that he would want this reading room to be in the Carnegie Library, where he came when he was growing up.
A show of hands was taken to see who wanted the reading room at the Carnegie library or who wanted a new library. The overwhelming majority was for the reading room at the current Carnegie library.
Fred Ellis, a well-known benefactor in the Latta area, said that a lot of people see this as a honesty thing and that if the reading room is what the man leaves his money for and there are attempts to subvert it to other things, then he doesn’t see much or any philanthropy occurring in the area for a long time because people remember stuff like that.
It was asked if there would be future meetings. Stephens said they would notify the public through The Dillon Herald.
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Editor’s Note: This meeting can be viewed in its entirety on The Dillon Herald’s channel on YouTube (Called Latta Library Future Meeting).