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Franklin officials dedicate ag center

June 28, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Ten years after the idea was conceived, the Franklin County Agricultural Heritage Center was dedicated Friday in honor of former County Commissioner G. Warren Elliott, who championed farmland preservation on the county and state levels during his 12 years in office.

"If there's one person in my time who I've seen do so much for agriculture, it's Warren Elliott," said state Sen. Terry Punt, who was instrumental in getting $600,000 in state funding for the $2.8 million building on Franklin Farm Lane.

The county, in cooperation with the state and local municipalities, has purchased the development rights to approximately 13,000 acres of prime farmland, much of that during Elliott's time on the board. He was also the only county commissioner serving on the Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Board.

"That was not necessarily my job. It was more my passion," Elliott said of preserving farmland. "We know we needed this facility because of the importance of agriculture to Franklin County."

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A bronze plaque in the shape of the county with Elliott's likeness is inside the building, which will house offices and meeting rooms for the Franklin County Conservation District, Franklin County Farm Bureau and the Penn State Cooperative Extension. Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff said he hopes to see other farm-related agencies, such as the U.S. Farm Service Agency, move to the center.

The Conservation District, formed more than a half-century ago to manage programs to prevent soil erosion and pollution and protect the watershed, contributed $300,000 to the cost of the building. A long list of individual and corporate donors raised about $250,000 more for the project with the balance being paid for by the county.

The center will give the farm bureau greater visibility at a better location that is also handicapped accessible, Farm Bureau President Titus Martin said.

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