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ABC lands on Locust Street

October 18, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - North Locust Street it is.

That's where the Cumberland Valley Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors is planting itself after years of bouncing around.

On Tuesday, the chapter unveiled a name for its new home: Barr Construction Institute.

The title honors the Barr family, notably Jack E. Barr, a charter member of the chapter.

His son, John F. Barr, president of Ellsworth Electric Inc. of Hagerstown, which was his father's business, has donated $200,000 to help renovate the building.

Joan Warner, ABC's president, said the project will cost about $2 million. Some of that is time and work that contractors are donating, she said.

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Last year, the chapter bought the 76-year-old building - the former Broadway School - for $370,000, according to state property records.

A couple of dozen people gathered in the rain Tuesday morning for the dedication. They stood near campaign signs for Barr, a Republican running for Washington County Commissioner in next month's general election.

Warner said the building is expected to open, in part, around Nov. 1 for training and classroom instruction.

ABC's programs include plumbing, carpentry, electrical work, masonry and heating/ventilation/air conditioning, which also is known as HVAC.

With "an extreme shortage" of workers in those crafts, "the construction industry is suffering tremendously," Warner said.

The homage to the Barr family was fitting because of its dedication to the industry, she said.

The North Locust Street building previously belonged to Hagerstown Bible Church, Grace Academy and Faith Hope & Charity Inc., according to property records.

John F. Barr said the building was in bad shape after a heating system froze and burst two winters ago, flooding the building.

Twice, the ABC chapter almost moved into the old Hagerstown Armory on North Potomac Street.

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