Ag center to be one-stop shop in Franklin County

April 04, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - An Agricultural Heritage Center for Franklin County moved one step closer to reality Tuesday when the Board of County Commissioners opened bids on the project, which is expected to be completed in the spring or summer of 2008.

The county received five bids for general construction, ranging from $2,032,000 by GRC General Contractor Inc. of Zullinger, Pa., to $1,670,000 from Palmer Construction Co. Inc. of McConnellsburg, Pa. The bids, however, included a number of alternate bids that could substantially lessen or increase the cost of the two-story, 14,000-square-foot building.

"These are really good numbers," Steve Ohm, the project manager, said of the bids. Once contracts have been awarded and a notice to proceed issued, Ohm said the project is supposed to take a year to build.

Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said the project is expected to cost about $3 million, including separate contracts for heating and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical work and an elevator. The county will review the bids and has scheduled April 26 as the day to award or reject them, County Administrator John Hart said.


"We want to create a one-stop shop for agricultural services," Elliott said of the building. The building will house the Franklin County Conservation District and related offices, Elliott said.

Elliott said farming remains the county's top industry. Cash receipts on dairy, livestock, crop and fruit production in 2005 were more than $272 million, according to the Pennsylvania Agricultural Statistics Service.

The Penn State Extension Service is in a nearby building that the county previously renovated, but it will likely have meeting and demonstration space in the heritage center, he said. The new building will be constructed on the site of a former county building on Franklin Farm Lane that was demolished about two years ago.

U.S. Department of Agriculture and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture offices now scattered around the Chambersburg area could also become tenants, Elliott said. Federal and state agriculture offices, he said, are being encouraged by officials in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., to "co-locate."

Elliott and Hart said the Conservation District has committed $300,000 to the project and a campaign to solicit donations for the building some years ago raised another $300,000. There is $2 million in bond funds in the budget for 2007, Elliott said.

The costs for heating, ventilating and air conditioning, plumbing and electrical services and an elevator - going by the low bids - would add about $600,000 more to the project, according to the bid figures.

By the numbers

Franklin County's rank in 2004 among Pennsylvania counties, according to the Franklin County Penn State Cooperative Extension:

  • 2nd in milk cows

  • 2nd in peaches

  • 2nd in cattle and calves

  • 2nd in corn for silage

  • 2nd in apple production

  • 3rd in corn for grain

  • 3rd in hogs and pigs

  • 3rd in alfalfa

  • 3rd in barley

  • 3rd in corn for grain

  • 5th in egg production
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