Ag Center gets boost from county $135,000 contributed for construction of multipurpose building

November 08, 1996|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

It was more than 40 years ago when Kathryn Frock joined other volunteers, cooking dinners and organizing fund-raisers to help pay for the Carroll County Agricultural Center, a Westminster facility that quickly became a focal point for the local agricultural industry.

Yesterday, Frock, now a member of the center's board, was presiding over refreshments as the board received a $135,000 boost from the county for construction of a $1.5 million multipurpose building.

With county commissioners and members of the county's legislative delegation in attendance, Jack Lyburn, the county economic development director, delivered the contribution to the board's fund-raising committee.

For Frock, the event brought back memories from the early 1950s, when Landon C. Burns, then the county cooperative extension agent, traversed the county soliciting donations for what Carroll residents invariably call the Ag Center.

"Everywhere he went, he had this big roll of blueprints under his arm, showing them to everybody to get them interested," said Frock, formerly a 4-H leader and now a member of the Family and Community Education Association, the renamed Carroll County Extension Homemakers.

The center, a cluster of barns, livestock pavilions and show rings on 13 acres off Center Street, has played host to the annual 4-H fair since 1955 and to numerous other farming and civic activities.

Some of the original barns -- showing wear after years of heavy use -- will be razed to make way for the new multipurpose building, which will be used for agricultural activities and community events.

County officials also hope to market the new building for trade shows and craft exhibitions, much as the Cow Palace at Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium is.

Lyburn said few sites in the Baltimore area are suitable for such large-scale events.

"We're going to be able to do large car shows and fishing and hunting expos," Lyburn said. "We think bringing people in and showing them the county will be great for tourism."

The new 150-by-200-foot building will include a commercial kitchen, restrooms, office space and a large open arena.

The Carroll County Agricultural Center, a private, nonprofit organization, is owned and managed by several farming-oriented community groups, including 4-H, Future Farmers of America and Carroll County Farm Bureau. It is governed by a board of directors.

The center's fund-raising committee has brought in $330,000, including yesterday's donation from the county and donations from local businesses, which also have contributed services.

C. J. Miller, a Hampstead construction company, will donate $40,000 worth of excavating work, and Carroll Land Services has prepared preliminary engineering and site plan drawings at no cost.

Board members said construction is scheduled to begin after the 1997 4-H fair and be completed for the 1998 fair.

Yesterday, Bob Jones, a former county cooperative extension agent who has been involved with the center since its early years, urged the public to contribute.

He recalled the widespread interest the center generated in the years after its 1955 opening.

"We got calls from people all over the eastern United States wondering how the Ag Center came together, and when I told them not a penny of government money was spent on the project, they just shook their heads in disbelief," Jones said.

"Carroll County people had the will to work together to bring this Ag Center into being, and I call on the community once again to support and develop this new building," he said.

Pub Date: 11/08/96

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