GRANITE CITY — The Six Mile Regional Library District’s downtown branch got a new addition on April 1 — a green flag.
Tallin Curran, the library’s IT and facilities manager, raised a green flag on the left side of the library as part of the Greener Cleaner Granite City Air Quality Flag and Ozone Garden Program.
Linda Aud, Kelley Bellina and Kim Petzing made a one-hour presentation of the project at the library’s conference room. Aud, who is a local resident and a member of both the United Congregations of Metro-East and Granite City Cool Cities committee, is the leader of the project, which offers educational programming and science activities that highlight ways to improve air quality and health.
Other organizations that contributed to the project include the Granite City School District, the Six Mile Regional Library District, University of Illinois, Granite City Community Gardens and Madison County Partnership for Community Health.
“This project couldn’t have functioned without all of these wonderful partners and they’ve done so much,” Aud said. “It’s so very much appreciated.”
The project received a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. Saint Louis University, Granite City Community Gardens and Granite City Cool Cities were among the organizations that helped with the grant proposal.
“Just a thank you to EPA for funding us,” Aud said. “We were very surprised when we did get the award. We’re very happy.”
Aud said she thanks Tina Hubert, the library’s director, for giving her the opportunity to talk about the project, which benefits all residents of the Granite City area.
“She planned the agenda,” Aud said. “She made the fliers and sent those out. She made the press release and she has provided all of the refreshments. I want to thank her so much.”
Aud said Jeff Rains, who works at Granite City Community Gardens, also was a big help.
“He’s the person who is really responsible for us doing the project to begin with,” Aud said. “I wanted to do something to serve the community and he really wanted this Ozone Garden. He took master gardening classes at the University of Illinois extension. He just learned about it and he really wanted it.”
Bellina works as a manager of the Ozone Garden at Saint Louis University’s Center for Environmental Sciences.
“She has provided all of the educational signing at the Ozone Garden,” Aud said. “She provided all of the seeds and we started this last year. This is the second year for the Ozone Garden, so the roots came up strong and we should be able to see visible ozone damage this year. She’s a consultant for the project. She helps with field trips for the garden and she provides training and she assists with presentations.”
Petzing is the coordinator of the Madison County Green Schools program, which includes healthy and resource-efficient schools that educate sustainability-literate citizens while saving energy, resources and money.
“She got all of the schools in Granite City, both public and parochial on board, which we really appreciated,” Aud said. “She provided flags for all of the sites. She assists with presentations and will do educational activities in the school and in our field trips and is providing training for the Ozone Garden.”
There are two parts to the project — an ozone garden located at the Granite City Fire Station on Rock Road and a citizen monitoring network using EPA’s air quality index and air quality flag program.
The ozone garden was planted a year ago and it will be available for visitors. Bellina oversees the garden as well as ozone gardens at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville, the St. Louis Science Center, Grant’s Farm and Missouri Botanical Gardens. An ozone garden is a visible way to demonstrate the damage ground-level ozone pollution can do to plants and the environment.
The Six Mile Regional Library District is installing citizen air quality monitoring networks to monitor the air quality including ozone, black carbon and particulate matter. The fire station also will have an ozone monitor at the ozone garden.
The visual component for the citizen monitoring network is the air quality program. Staff and students for each participating organization will check the EPA’s AirNow data daily to provide the most accurate air quality forecast and will then display the appropriate flag. The Six Mile Library, SWIC Granite City campus, all of the schools in the Granite City School District, St. Elizabeth School, Holy Family School, the Granite City Housing Authority and the fire station on Rock Road are displaying flags.
The Six Mile Library downtown branch was renovated in August 2014. It has made numerous improvements, including new restrooms, a new teen area, a new main floor circulation desk and a new computer lab.
The library district has an online Clean Air Repository program that provides information to educate the Granite City area residents on the hazards of various pollutants created by nearby industries.