Two Local Libraries Receive Large, Unexpected Donations - Northern Michigan's News Leader

Two Local Libraries Receive Large, Unexpected Donations

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"Some of the people that knew him here joked with him. 'Hey, maybe you'll leave it to the library some day,' and he did," said Bradley Chaplin, Director of Kalkaska Library.

A man used his will to leave more than $400,000 for libraries in Elk Rapids and Kalkaska.

Charles Heffer passed away in May of last year and left his local libraries a gift that they didn't know was coming.

Now they have to make decisions about what to do with the generous donation.

"Our usual budget is $250,000-275,000 a year so this is major. I wanna do something special with it," said Nannette Miller, Director of Elk Rapids Library.

At first the Elk Rapids library director had no idea what to do with the $400,000 gift left by Charles Heffer, so they turned to the public.

"We want to know what the community wants the library to do, and to be in the future because this is a wind fall that doesn't come around very often," said Miller.

They set up a public survey, hired a consulting team, and plan to have a few more meetings before a final decision in August.

For kalkaska, it's a different story

"Once we found out we knew who he was, I tried to find any family members he had to write a thank you letter. Unfortunately there was no one, so we decided to have a big party on the day that we got it," said Chaplin.

A table is set up in honor of Charles at the Kalkaska library showing a blow up version of the check and some information on his past so people walking by will be reminded of all he left behind.

"The board has designated that money for a brand new building, so it's sitting in a fund right now for the day that we can actually purchase some property or purchase an existing building," said Chaplin.

Trying to ensure the next library is something Charles Heffer would be proud of.

"I just hope we can do his wishes proper justice when we get a new building and transform to a great library that will last another 80 years," said Chaplin.