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Funding is sought for agriculture center

February 20, 1997

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - Short on funds to pay its share of a state matching grant, officials representing the Washington County Agricultural Education Center asked state lawmakers Wednesday for more time to come up with the cash.

The center must raise about $250,000 by June 1 or risk losing part of a $350,000 state matching grant for construction of an agricultural history museum at the center, officials said.

A bill filed by the county delegation would extend that deadline to June of 1999.

"We are confident that we can meet that extension," Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, told the House Appropriations Committee.

John Staub, president of the agriculture center board, said the center is working to come up with its share of the funding. It has hired Richard Schukraft, a former county extension agent, to lead a fund-raising effort.

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Staub said most of the $101,000 raised so far has been in the form of smaller, individual donations. They hope to close the gap with larger donations, he said.

"We're still looking for a big fish to fry, but so we have haven't gotten (one)," Staub said.

Staub has said if the center can't raise an amount close to the full $350,000 by the state deadline, the expansion plans will have to be scaled back. The present design plan might be scaled back, he said.

In addition to the proposed museum, several other projects are under way or in the planning stage at the center. Those include a MIHI recreation area, additional parking, picnic pavilions, a petting zoo and a rifle range.

The committee may decide soon on the center's request, which local lawmakers expect to be approved.

The bill would still have to be approved the full General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Parris N. Glendening before the extension would be granted.

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