Museum plan on tap

August 26, 1997



Staff Writers

The Washington County Commissioners will hear a proposal tonight for a new building at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center to house a Rural Heritage Museum as well as offices for several local agricultural agencies.

County officials want construction to start next spring so the building will be ready in the fall of 1998, said Planning Director Robert Arch.

The county's three-year lease at 1260 Maryland Ave., the home of the local University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service and other agricultural offices, expires on Oct. 31, 1998, county officials said.


The county is paying an exorbitant amount of rent for the agency so the County Commissioners asked staff to look into building offices for the agricultural agencies, said Public Works Director Gary Rohrer.

The commissioners will hear a proposal for the building during a 7 p.m. meeting at the Fairplay Fire Hall.

Pete Callas, a member of the Washington County Agricultural Education Center's board of directors, said having all of the agricultural services in one site would make life much more convenient for farmers and others who have to use the services.

"There won't be a facility like this in the state," Callas said.

The center is also negotiating with the University of Maryland about the possibility of having agricultural classes taught in the museum building, he said.

Callas said the size of the building hasn't been determined yet, but the museum portion alone would be larger than 7,000 square feet.

Callas said the center has raised more than $100,000 toward matching a $350,000 state grant for the project.

The next step for the project, in addition to raising money, is to hire an architect to design the building, Callas said.

The museum would include a gift shop and could prove a boost for tourism in the area.

Callas said he expected a good portion of the hundreds of thousands who visit Antietam National Battlefield each year to make the short trip to the museum and see historic farm artifacts.

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