Mercer claims county violated library agreement, wants $83,000 returned

Carol Mercer with photo of her daughter and herself
Carol Mercer with photo of her daughter and herself

Seven years ago Eagle Point resident Carol Mercer deeded a piece of property to the Jackson County Library Foundation. Proceeds from the sale of the residence were to do one of four things:

  • Acquire land in Eagle Point


  • Build Eagle Point branch library


  • Make capital improvements to the existing Eagle Point Library, or


  • Make capital improvements to the Medford main library.

In addition, Jackson County agreed to "create and maintain a memorial
for Mercer’s daughter, Sarah, in either the Eagle Point or Medford
Library. The form and control of which was to be worked out between
Mercer and Jackson County, independent of the foundation agreement,
according to the records.
With the closure of the
libraries, Mercer wrote a letter to the Jackson County Board of
Commissioners on Aug. 8 saying the county was no longer maintaining
Sarah’s memorial and she asked the county to give her the money from
the property she said she donated to Jackson County. She said the 
letter was written with regrets  "due to the failure of Jackson County
to comply with the terms of the written agreement I entered into
regarding the gift I designated for the Jackson County Library system."
her Aug. 8 letter, Mercer said she expected the $83,000 realized from
the sale of the property seven years ago to be returned within 10 days
so she could donate the funds where libraries are supported.
Aug. 28, Mercer wrote a second letter. This letter was addressed to
Kristi  Hagey, senior assistant Jackson County counsel,  with copies to
the commissioners, county administrator and county legal counsel. The
letter was partly in response to a phone call from Hagey and a
reiteration of Mercer’s demand.  Mercer said she would hold a press
conference on Sept. 5 to alert the public to her actions and to advise
if she did not receive funds by Sept. 15, she would sue the county.
Aug. 31 Hagey replied. She said the donation to the Jackson County
Library Foundation and the documents relating to the memorial to Sarah
were legally independent of each other. Hagey said the charitable
donation was made to the Jackson County Library Foundation, "which is
not a Jackson County organization, but rather a private organization." 
That agreement was signed by Jim Fety, then president of the
Foundation. Hagey said, because those funds were to the Library
Foundation, Jackson County has no legal authority to return those
funds. Hagey said the donation agreement was dated Dec. 30, 1998 and
the memorial agreement was done in January, 1999.
In her
press conference in front of the closed Eagle Point Library on Sept. 5,
Mercer said she did not intend to back down on her pursuit. "I’m like a
grizzly bear defending my cub," said Mercer. "It’s not about me. It’s
about finding a safe place for my daughter."
"I feel
absolutely violated," said Mercer who also said she had changed her
will, which originally was to provide for some staffing at the Eagle
Point Library. "I don’t trust the county."
She said she would not
place the memorial or her funds any place in Jackson County. One of the
institutions likely to receive her donation and probably the memorial
would be the University of California at Santa Cruz, where Sarah was a
student 10 years ago when she was struck by an auto while jogging.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent

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