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Ag center receives $600,000 grant from state

October 16, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Plans to build an agricultural resource center on Franklin Farm Lane to house several agencies in one building got a $600,000 boost Tuesday because of the efforts of state Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin.

Based on preliminary estimates, the center's cost could run to $2.5 million, members of its fund-raising committee said Tuesday at a press conference announcing the $600,000 grant.

So far, $700,000 in private donations has been raised for the building, said John R. Stoner, a retired Mercersburg-area farmer and fund-raising committee member. Punt's grant brings the total to $1.3 million.

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How much of a building is constructed will depend on how much more money is raised, Stoner said.

"If we go over our goal of $2.5 million we may do more," he said.

The agencies planned for inclusion in the new building include Penn State's Franklin County Cooperative Extension Office, the Franklin County Conservation District, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Farm Service Agency and 4-H programs.

A barn on the property would be renovated and used as an educational and environmental facility, according to initial plans.

The project is a joint public-private partnership between the county and agricultural community. The county donated the land for the new building and ongoing maintenance for the buildings that once served as the county farm for indigents.

Punt said agriculture is an important segment of Franklin County's economy and is its No. 1 industry.

"It is second in the state in milk production, producing nearly 1 billion pounds a year," he said.

The county produces 250 million eggs a year and cash receipts for agricultural endeavors total $255 million, he said.

"Franklin County is indeed a powerful force in the world of agriculture and the money it generates is critical to our well-being," Punt said.

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