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Agricultural heritage center in the works in Pa. county

July 25, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Bids were opened last week by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners to demolish part of a building to make way for an agricultural heritage center.

About 75 percent of Building 3 on Franklin Farm Lane will be demolished, with the remainder renovated for county office space and the offices of Alternative Rehabilitation Communities, a program for troubled youths, according to the bid documents. A boiler house once used to supply heat to the three-story brick building also will be torn down.

What is being torn down was once home to the offices of District Court 39-3-04, which has since been moved to Scotland, Pa.; the Franklin County Veterans Affairs Office, now in the county Human Service Building on Franklin Farm Lane; and the Penn State Cooperative Extension Service, which moved next door to the renovated Building 2, according to Commissioner Cheryl Plummer.

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The idea for an agricultural heritage center dates to the late 1990s, Plummer said. The center would become home to various government entities that serve the farming community, such as the federal Farm Service Agency now in leased office space north of Chambersburg.

The center was originally planned to be built on county-owned land across Franklin Farm Lane, Plummer said.

"The design has changed numerous times from when it was first done," Assistant County Administrator Kelly Livermore said Tuesday. Because there is no final design, the cost of building an agricultural heritage center still is unknown, she said.

Livermore said the county spent about $685,000 in the past year renovating Building 2, which was the county's home for the indigent and elderly when built in 1814.

In 2002, state Sen. Terry Punt, R-Pa., announced a $600,000 grant for the project from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Extension Agent Robert Kessler said Wednesday that approximately $350,000 more has been raised through donations.

The county received one bid from B&P Neal Enterprises Inc. of Manheim, Pa., of $348,000 for demolition of part of Building 3 and the boiler building.

The bids were being reviewed by county staff before the board of commissioners votes to accept or reject them.

If contracts are awarded, Livermore said the demolition and renovation will take about nine months to a year to complete.

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