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Franklin ag info center planned

February 11, 2001|By STACEY DANZUSO, Chambersburg

Franklin ag info center planned



CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Fund-raising for a new "one-stop shopping" county agricultural center is well under way, in part due to a recent donation from one of the agencies that will be housed there.

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The Franklin County Conservation District announced this month it pledged $300,000 to the Franklin County Agricultural Center.

A committee kicked off the $2.5 million capital campaign in November and has raised $500,000 so far.

"We think we will reach $1 million by mid-March. That's our goal," said C. Eugene Wingert, a campaign co-chair.

The center would bring under one roof as many as five agricultural-centered agencies, including the Penn State Cooperative Extension offices, the Franklin County Conservation District and likely the Franklin County Farm Bureau, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service agencies

Those five agencies are currently scattered among three locations in Chambersburg.

"We're supporting the agriculture and people in the county," said Ernest Tarner, district manager of the Conservation District. "This gives them a one-stop place to go in the county."

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Tarner said his agency offers a variety of services including erosion control, stream-permitting projects, West Nile virus surveillance and educational workshops.

He said the new center will give the Conservation District much-needed access to space for conferences and educational programs.

The Franklin County Conservation District Board of Directors voted unanimously earlier this year to make the pledge, Tarner said.

"The money we pledged is not taxpayer money. It is money we have charged for fees and services rendered," he said.

Wingert said he is pleased at the pace the fund-raising is going.

"Everything is in the right time frame," he said. "We have had some other sizable donations as well."

Franklin County is donating five acres on Franklin Farm Lane for the center and will provide maintenance of the building and grounds in the future.

The center will include a two-story building for offices, a technology lab, an agriculture museum and a visitors' center.

Money from the capital campaign would also fund the renovation of an historic barn on the property for the 4-H and for use by school groups and camps.

Donors who contribute $5,000 or more will have the opportunity to have certain rooms or features named in their honor.

Construction on the center is expected to begin in the spring of 2002.

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