homepage logo

Library closed after hit-and-run damages building, police seeking information

By Toni Milbourne - For the Chronicle | Jul 9, 2021

The Shepherdstown Public Library was victim of a hit-and-run this week, causing severe damage to its building’s structure, as well as severing electric lines. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN — According to the Shepherdstown Police Department, a hit-and-run accident, occurring sometime between the hours of 6 p.m. Sunday evening and 8:50 a.m. Monday morning, has left the town’s library structurally damaged.

“The building appears to have been struck by a large, heavy vehicle,” a social media post said, asking anyone with information to contact Pfc. Michael “Doc” Moats at 304-702-2303 or at the SPD office at 304-876-6036, extension 202.

The post went on to say that evidence has been collected from the scene. However, assistance from the public is essential in identifying who damaged the building.

According to Shepherdstown Public Library Director Hali Taylor, the library is closed for the time-being, because the accident resulted in a severed electric line.

“It was hit with quite a bit of force,” Taylor said. “It crumpled the back corner near the bathrooms, causing movement in the bricks.”

Mayor Jim Auxer said the town, which owns the building, has hired a contractor to shore up the building, so that no further damage occurs.

“We are evaluating the situation to bring the library back to life as soon as possible,” Auxer said.

Taylor noted the timing of the hit-and-run took place a month after the library had reopened. The library had been closed to the public up until this summer, due to COVID-19 Pandemic social distancing concerns.

“This is devastating for us as a staff,” Taylor said.

Taylor said she was able to briefly enter the building to secure her computer after the accident. However, no one was able to enter the building after that, due to the lack of electricity and water in the building, resulting from the accident.

“There was no damage to library equipment, as far as we know,” Taylor said.

Taylor did voice some concerns that if it were to rain, water might get into the building at the site of the damage, because of the many computer lines near the location. As of Monday evening, both sides of King Street beside the library building were closed to pedestrian and vehicular traffic, while the evaluation of the building was completed.

Police are calling for anyone who may have seen a vehicle leaving the area with heavy damage or one that appeared to be fleeing, to call and share that information.

As of Monday, the library has canceled all programs that had just begun for the summer. Community members with books on loan are asked to hold onto them, until the library is open and functioning again.

“We don’t know how long it will take. A brick mason will likely have to be hired,” Taylor said, mentioning the concern that the bricks near the hit-and-run location are buckling, which indicates possible instability on the first and second floors.

The contractor hired by the town evaluated the situation fully, to secure the structure until repairs can be completed.

“This is really going to impact people,” Taylor said of library users. “We can’t even offer curbside service, because we don’t have electricity.”

Taylor did indicate that library item check-outs could still be done by hand. Taylor added that her staff was scheduled to meet via Zoom, to determine how to move forward.

Library patrons are advised to continue to check the library website, Facebook page or Instagram for updates.