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Pa. Ag Heritage Center gets first tenant

Franklin Co. Conservation District signs 30-year lease

Franklin Co. Conservation District signs 30-year lease

December 18, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. ? The Franklin County Conservation District will be the first tenant for the county's Agricultural Heritage Center when it opens in the spring, and Director Ernie Tarner signed a 30-year lease Tuesday for its suite of offices.

The Conservation District, which works with builders, farmers and others to develop plans to prevent soil erosion, manure runoff and associated problems that can harm farmland and contaminate waterways, already committed to moving into the center that is under construction on Franklin Farm Lane.

The district committed $300,000 to the project, paying $100,000 when construction began and handing over another check Tuesday for $200,000.

"It's rare that someone comes here and gives us a check," County Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said.

For that $300,000, the Conservation District will get a 5,600-square-foot suite of offices in the 14,000-square-foot building, along with access to the common areas and conference rooms in the center, County Administrator John Hart said.

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Much of the money for the $1.4 million center has been raised, Hart said. In addition to the Conservation District money, another $600,000 came from the state and $300,000 from a fundraising campaign. The county will pay the balance, Elliott said.

The Conservation District, which employs seven people, is now in rented space in the Chambersburg area, Elliott said. While $10,000 a year seems a bargain for the space the district will occupy, Elliott said the county has contributed as much as $30,000 a year in the past toward housing its offices, which at one time had been in the county's Administrative Annex.

Maintenance and utilities for the suite also will be paid for by the county in the new center.

Tarner said his staff now works in about 900 square feet of office space. The space limitations have limited the number of staff and more might be added next year, he said.

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