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Fund-raising efforts slowed for Franklin County Ag Center

November 23, 2001

Fund-raising efforts slowed for Franklin County Ag Center



By STACEY DANZUSO
chbbureau@innernet.net


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Fund-raising efforts for the proposed Franklin County Agricultural Center have been slowed by the sluggish economy and busy growing season, but the project is still moving forward.

"We are on track, just not the fast track," said Robert Kessler, director of the Penn State Cooperative Extension offices in Chambersburg.

Last November, a fund-raising committee kicked off a $2.5 million capital campaign to support the construction of the center.

So far the committee has raised nearly $700,000, including $300,000 pledged by the Franklin County Conservation District in February.

"Our clientele we are dealing with as far as raising funds and donations was pretty busy in the summer," Kessler said. "Now we are gearing up and trying do something," including a community fund drive in the spring.

Kessler said the economy - including hundreds of layoffs at county businesses and all-time low milk prices when the campaign began - has not helped their efforts.

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"Economically, this was not a great year to try and raise funds," he said.

But he is hopeful the construction will begin sometime next year, although probably not in the spring as originally predicted.

"It's taking a little longer than we had hoped. But we are still trying to bring it to fruition," he said.

Physical plans have not changed, although the timetable remains uncertain, Kessler said. Once construction begins, it will probably take a year to complete the center.

The center is expected to create one-stop shopping for residents by bringing five agricultural agencies under one roof.

They include the Penn State Cooperative Extension offices, the Franklin County Conservation District, the Franklin County Farm Bureau, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency.

Those five agencies are scattered between three locations in Chambersburg.

The extension office on Franklin Farm Lane does not have adequate space or parking to offer all of the programs it would like to.

The new center will be on five acres on Franklin Farm Lane donated by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners. The land was originally sold to the county in 1811 to be used as a county farm.

The county will also provide for the maintenance of the buildings and grounds.

Plans for the center include a two-story building that would house offices, a technology lab, an agricultural museum and visitors' center. Renovating a historic barn built in 1859 on the property for use by 4-H to teach agriculture to school groups and camps would also be funded by the $2.5 million.

The center would not be just for farmers, but would house environmental activities for homeowners and the 4-H Club.

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

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