STEWARTSTOWN — Saying there has been “little to no use” of it in recent years, voters at Town Meeting on Tuesday agreed to close the Dennis Joos Memorial Library, which is named after a hero-victim of the 1997 mass murder in nearby Colebrook.
Joos, as well as New Hampshire State Troopers Scott Phillips and Leslie Lord and Colebrook District Court judge Vickie Bunnell, were all shot and killed on Aug. 19, 1997, by Carl Drega, a man who had been engaged in a long-standing dispute with local authorities about his property in Columbia.
After Drega shot the others, Joos, who was the editor of the Colebrook News & Sentinel and was in the newspaper’s building that was also home to Bunnell’s office, attempted to disarm him, but was killed.
In 1998, the Town of Stewartstown renamed a library in the rear of its then-new Town Hall building after Joos.
Charlie Jordan, who was Joos’ friend and a colleague at the News & Sentinel and is now the editor of the crosstown Colebrook Chronicle, said he was saddened by the vote to close the library, but said he fully understood it. He added that the warrant article was sensitively written and respectful of Joos.
A town official said on Wednesday that the article was passed by a voice vote and with no comment. It directs that all private donors of items to the library will have the first right to repossess them, with the Stewartstown Community School Library receiving what is left over.
Further disbursements would be made at the discretion of the librarian and trustees.
“Please be aware,” the article read, “that the ultimate sacrifice Dennis Joos made will not be forgotten,” and that a painting of him, enclosed in a display of a copy of the News & Sentinel from that “fateful day” has been installed on a wall in the Town Hall corridor.
An inscription reads: “Poor is the nation that has no heroes; shameful the nation, that having, forgets.”
Small libraries without Internet access are having a tough time all over, said Jordan, not just in Stewartstown.
“These are changing times that we live in,” Jordan said. “But we had a good run of 21 years with his (Joos’) name on it and we’ll always remember him” regardless of whether his name is on a building or not.