The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

January 27, 2013

Public library banks large Dekko grant

By Jean Cole

— Smiles of joy, and possibly relief, filled the Athens-Limestone Public Library this week when a group gathered to accept an oversized check to build the new library in an existing building on Jefferson Street.

The check was oversized in both dimension and amount, a whopping $750,000 from the Dekko Foundation.

The Athens-Limestone Library Board of Directors and fundraising consultant Debbie Joyner of Huntsville spearheaded a yearlong campaign to raise $1.5 million in 2012 in order to secure a grant from the Dekko Foundation. Businesses, individuals, families, students and many others contributed to make it happen.

The Dekko Foundation is a private foundation started in 1981 by the late Chester E. “Chet” Dekko. An entrepreneur, business and community leader, and dedicated family man, Dekko believed in education as the key to an independent, successful life. His foundation’s mission is “to foster economic freedom through education.”

Supporters of the local library project are thankful for the opportunity Dekko provided.

“Mr. Dekko’s generosity has benefited many organizations throughout Limestone County, and the Athens Limestone Public Library Foundation is proud to be a grant recipient,” Joyner said Friday. “The $1 million challenge grant issued by the Dekko Foundation on behalf of the project to build a new library for the community, provided the Foundation with the boost they needed to engage the community.”

The Foundation earned the first grant payment of $250,000 in January 2012, Joyner said.  This  $750,000 check represents the final payment of the $1 million challenge, she said.

“We can’t thank the Dekko Foundation enough for their belief in our project and their financial support,” said Dr. Frank Cauthen, chair of the Library Foundation Board. “With their help, our dream will become a reality and will benefit every member of this community.” 

Foundation board members are still working on a final push to raise the last $500,000 needed to finance the construction of the new facility, Joyner said. Naming opportunities are available, and donations of $5,000 or more will be recognized on a wall for major donors.

Spring start, 2014 finish

Renovation of the former Kroger building on South Jefferson Street in Athens is expected to begin this spring, with opening expected in summer 2014. Jeff Tosh of CMH Architects is designing the new facility. Limestone Building Group will oversee the renovation.

The drive to build a new library grew from the belief that the current library, located at 405 E. South St. in Athens, was too small.

To donate or to hear about donor-naming opportunities at the library, contact Alison Scroggins at or Debbie Joyner at