Terry Chandler

Terry Chandler talks to the Rotary Club about plans for an ag center.

Terry Chandler is optimistic, even in the face of a pandemic, about the building of a new agriculture center. He spoke to the Rotary club sharing that even with the troubles 2020 brought, receiving three grants during the year kept the plans active.

The Georgia Authority “One Georgia” grant is for $150,000, and even after Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center (NEGARDC) administrative costs are deducted, the net will be $135,000 to $140,000. He credits Alan Powell and Tom McCall as being instrumental in his receiving the grant. An EMC grant of $50,000 has been a huge support in the evolution of the center. A grant from a local contributor who chooses to remain unnamed came to the Agriculture Center Board of Directors boosting the plans with $90,000.

Mr. Chandler told Rotarians that three local groups have been original partners. The Madison County Farm Bureau, the Madison County Cattlemen’s Association, and the Madison County Young Farmer’s Association each contributed $54,000 at the initiation of the project. These groups have expressed intent to help further when construction is underway.

No target date is set for completion of the project. The building will be located across the street from the Madison County Superintendent’s offices and within walking distance for high school students. The many i’s needing to be dotted and t’s being crossed in the grants are important to the target date, but the board of directors anticipates choosing a contractor by mid-March, and construction beginning by late summer or early fall. Also, they desire to use local folks and hope that some will offer pro bono or reduced cost work. Construction is defined in two phases. Phase one will be the main educational building which will include a large assembly area, kitchen, arena, a conference area, and livestock pen. Phase two will include an outdoor arena designed for equestrian activity.

Since the total cost of the project will exceed the funds on hand, fund raising will need to continue. The plan is to offer the opportunity for partners to “adopt” a particular component of the construction. For example, a partner could fund the kitchen and then name that area. The foyer area will display all the partners, thanking each. Essentially, this center will function much like a civic center for Madison County.

Ellen Cowne provides news from the Rotary Club of Madison County.

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