Ready to move into new Ag building

Published 12:51 pm Friday, June 1, 2012

Federal, state and county officials joined together Wednesday to walk through Decatur County’s new 9,724-square-foot agriculture building.

The building, which is located on Coachman Street, near the Cloud Agricultural Building, has been under construction since September 2011. It will house the Decatur County Cooperative Extension Office, the county’s 4-H program, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s local Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

County Interim Administrator Gary Breedlove said the federal agency workers planned to move in to the new building Thursday, May 31, and the county extension service workers will move in sometime in the coming week. The tentative date for a public open house and grand opening ceremony is June 15, at 10 a.m.

“We have been very pleased with the work and the progress that has been made on this project,” Breedlove said.

The building features a covered entrance and flag pole in the front, with a plaque in front of the U.S. flag. The inscription on the plaque reads: “In Honor and Remembrance of the Heroes and Victims in the Fight Against Terrorism and to Celebrate the Enduring Spirit of All Americans.” It is presented by the Faceville Woodmen of the World Lodge No. 883.

After entering through the front door, visitors can turn left to head to the FSA offices, walk straight ahead to the NRCS offices, or turn right to head to the county extension offices. The county extension office portion of the building features a working kitchen and a large conference room.

“This building will truly be an asset to the county extension service and our 4-H and FFA programs,” said County Extension Coordinator Mitchell May.

Billy Dollar, who served as general contractor for the building’s construction, said the county was able to save a great deal of money by using inmate labor. Sub-contractors were used for flooring and ceiling installation, and air-conditioning work, but otherwise most of the construction was done by prison inmates.

“I think the construction process went very well and in a timely manner,” he said. “We had a few small delays from weather and other factors, but that’s common on this size of a project.”

Dr. Charles T. Stafford, the chairman of the Decatur County Board of Commissioners, also spoke of the building’s advantages for the area.

“This is a project that has been in the works for a long time and we’re excited to see it completed,” he said. “It’s a major asset to our community and to our citizens, and it’s a major asset to one of our most important industries — agriculture.”

Local officials were not the only people singing the new building’s praises Wednesday. One of the people on the tour was John Sianaz, a program management specialist with the FSA. His responsibility was to give the building a final inspection to make sure it conforms to federal standards.

“This is one of the nicer buildings of this type that I have seen,” said Sianaz, who travels across the country to inspect FSA facilities. “I think that the people of Decatur County are really going to enjoy it.”

 

Another federal official who toured the building Wednesday was Julius Byrd, a realty specialist for the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Byrd is originally from Attapulgus and attended Bainbridge High School, but currently works in Washington, D.C., for the federal government.

“It’s truly rewarding to be a part of a project like this,” said Byrd, whose responsibilities include all new U.S. Dept. of Agriculture construction in the state of Georgia. “Growing up in Decatur County, I know how important agriculture is to the people, and this is a wonderful building to help serve their needs.”