DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- Taxpayers in Douglas County are footing the bill to change the name of a popular library, and while there's no word yet on how much it will cost, at least one man is not happy about it.
"In 7th grade I founded the library club. That's as far back as it goes. Geeks R Us," sid James H. LaRue, a resident of Castle Rock.
For 24 years, LaRue served as the director of the Douglas County libraries, winning numerous awards — including a career achievement award and librarian of the year award. When he announced his retirement in 2014, he received the honor of a lifetime.
"One of the last acts that the Library Board took was to honor me by changing the name of the library. I was absolutely astonished and surprised, "said LaRue.
The popular James H. LaRue Library has been one of the crown jewels of the Douglas County library system. But last week, LaRue learned the board had voted unanimously to remove his name from the building, in favor the more generic "Highlands Ranch" library.
"It’s one thing to be honored. It’s something else to have the honor removed without being told why that’s happening. So I’m a little confused," he said.
LaRue believes he’s paying the price for politically butting heads with the board in the past.
"It was pretty mysterious. No explanation was given. There was no discussion," he said.
Sean Duffy is the president of the Douglas County Library Board of Trustees. He said La Rue has it all wrong.
"We have a policy that libraries should be named geographically," said Duffy.
He said Douglas County policy also forbids county buildings and schools from being named after people, and it’s time to honor the policy.
"I don’t know Mr. LaRue. He served our district very, very well," said Duffy.
"To name an entire building for a living person — we’ve seen in other counties where that can be a huge problem down the road," he said.
Duffy said a conference room in Castle Rock still bears LaRue’s name and will stay that way. But for now, James H. LaRue says removing his name from his beloved library is a slap in the face.
"I’m not sure if I deserved it in the first place," LaRue said. "But it feels like if the first one was to honor me, the second was to dishonor me. The second was to dishonor me," he said.
The name change is already in effect, except for one sign still bearing LaRue's name. That change will be made in the next few days.