Saturday, the single largest private donation to an effort to build a new branch of the Chouteau County Library in Big Sandy put the effort close to halfway to its more-than $500,000 goal.
Outgoing State Rep. Roger Hagan. R-Great Falls, a 1967 Big Sandy High School graduate, and his children, Stephen, Stephanie and Stacie and their families, were in Big Sandy to present three checks totalling $27,250 to the effort.
“It’s kind of going back to our roots,” Roger Hagan said at the presentation.
Hagan lost his bid for re-election in the June 3 Republican primary to Randy Pinocci of Sun River.
Big Sandy residents are raising funds for the county project, with Ladene Mangold, Dee Pribyl, Marla Ray and Ann Quinn organizing the efforts. Ray said Debra Clark of Carter, chair of the Chouteau County Library Board and president of its foundation, has been key in finding grants for the effort and many community members have helped in the fundraising.
Janis Kaste Kaiser donated the property to be used, the former Kaste Department Store in Big Sandy, in 2007 with the express purpose it be used to build a library, Ray said.
She added that people are continuing to make donations, including several attending the Class of 1964 reunion contributing over the weekend, but the effort still has a long way to go.
Hagan, a retired U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard member, and his children made the largest of the three donations in memory of his wife, Dorrie Hagan, also a veteran of the Air Force and Air National Guard, who died from injuries sustained in a car crash in 2011.
Hagan and his siblings, Gail Brandt and Gary and Curt Hagan, made two other donations.
The four donated $2,000 in memory of their parents, Kenny and Audrey Hagan, and another $250 in memory of their aunt and uncle, Orie and Vi Hagan — Vi Hagan was reputed to have been a librarian at one point, Roger Hagan said.
Ray said the library donation is the latest in a series of contributions Hagan has made to his hometown, evidence that he has never forgotten his roots.
She said the local group working on fundraising hopes to have the new library up and running as soon as possible, although that depends on when enough funds are provided to actually build the building.
The existing library has an extensive collection to move into the new facility once it is completed, including some collections now stored in the historical society museum, Ray said.
Roger Hagan said donating the $25,000 to a library was a proper memorial for his wife, who was an avid reader.
“She was very much into libraries, and this is an appropriate thing, I think,” he said.