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Lewisboro Daily Voice serves Lewisboro, NY
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Taste of the Grape Keeps Lewisboro Library Liquid

Keeping the Lewisboro Library liquid conjures two images for Michelle Colman. One is of the library with its doors open seven days a week, instead of cut back to five; the other is of her husband, Tyler Colman. "He is, after all, Dr. Vino, a wine expert," she said.

Blending the two, like combining two noble grapes, has yielded a distinctly homegrown Lewisboro fundraising event, an evening of wine tasting led by Dr. Vino, along with a silent auction and a raffle of community-contributed offers and items held at the Waccabuc home of Tony award-winning producers Fran and Barry Weissler.

"The opportunity to just stroll around their grounds, with the wisteria, apple trees and a house styled like a French chateau, is worth the price of a ticket," said Colman, who is chairing the event.

The tasting – 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday – will take summer as its theme, with wines suitable for serving in warm weather and several that go particularly well with grilled foods, said Tyler Colman, a writer, educator and authority on both wine and the wine industry. "We'll try 10 – whites, reds, a rose and something sparkling," he said. "These include a 1-liter bottle – that's one-third larger than your normal 750 milliliters – that costs about $12."

Cross River Wine Merchant is donating the wines. Waccabuc's The Daily Dish, owned by RocAnne Iarricio, is catering. (Tickets – $50 per person, in cash or a check – will be sold at the door; raffle tickets cost $5 each or $25 for a book of six. The Weissler home is 35 Schoolhouse Road, Waccabuc, N.Y. Parking is on the north side.)

This is the fundraising event's second year. The town provides 78 percent of the library's operating budget, which this year is $442,000. The library relies on other sources – including the annual Library Fair (which raised $38,000 last year), direct-mail fundraising appeals and fines from overdue books – to cover the rest of its budget needs.

In 2009-2010, the shortfall was so bad that the library cut its schedule to five days from seven. "We were going to move the library to another location and had raised funds for doing that," said Gary Page, chairman of the board since January. "Maybe that affected people's desire to give. Regardless, we needed to bridge the gap."

Michelle Colman said the library's distress inspired her to volunteer her husband and his wine expertise. The 2010 event raised $13,000. Then in February, real estate developers and Lewisboro residents Adam R. Rose and Peter R. McQuillan authorized moving their $100,000 contribution from the building fund to the operating budget. "It was the rescue we needed," Page said. "We were back to a seven-day week."

The Lewisboro Library was one of the oldest chartered voluntary libraries in New York State when it was organized as a private library in 1799, Cindy Rubino, its current director, said. It was reorganized in its present form in 1897 for anyone who lived in Lewisboro and paid 50 cents. Last year, Rubino said, 69,552 people came through its doors.

"Today, on a per-capita basis, we are the lowest-funded library in Westchester, 38th out of 38," Page, the board president, said. "We need to raise the profile, to remind people that this is the one place every resident of every age can come for Wi-Fi, for books, for activities. It's where everyone can congregate."

Should the Lewisboro library receive more town funding?

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