Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
A locally based agricultural research center is nearing its original fundraising goal to erect new buildings for its work, helped Wednesday by a $13,000 donation from Devon Energy Corp. which, as matching funds, translates to more than $60,000 toward the goal. “We’re getting close ,” said Gregg Carlson, superintendent of the Northern Agricultural Research Center housed at Fort Assinniboine south of Havre. “We have until the middle of February to get the rest.” The funds being raised will be used to provide a match for dollars provided by the last state Legislature, at a 4-to-1 ratio. NARC is trying to raise $360,000 to match a $1.8 million appropriation. Devon made the second of two presentations of $13,000 to the Montana State University College of Agriculture, which oversees the operations of the research centers. The first, made last week, was to help fund the upgrading of the water system at the Central Ag Research Center in Moccasin. The $13,000 donation Wednesday was for the construction of facilities to replace space used in the historical buildings of Fort Assinniboine, built toward the end of the Indian Wars. Carlson said that while the new buildings will not completely remove the research center from the fort buildings, their construction will move the offices out of what was the fort’s post office and library and will remove laboratory work out of the old card house and post trader building. Storage space will still be used in those two buildings, he added. Devon’s donation was made specifically to provide the match for funding to build a conference room in the proposed office-laboratory building, Carlson said. In a press release, a Devon representative said the company, an Oklahoma City-based independent energy company engaged in oil and gas exploration and production, wanted to help with the operations of the research center. "Devon Energy is so pleased to support the Montana Agricultural Experimental Station,” said Herman Handstede, senior production foreman at Devon Energy. “Having our donation matched four times for an even bigger contribution to MSU makes Devon feel four times as proud to be a part of their campaign.” Carlson said the fundraising is continuing although the research center is within $16,000 of its original goal, those cost estimates were made several years ago and the actual costs will probably be much higher. He said the actual cost is likely to be $50,000 more than the original estimate. All of the original work at the research center was done in the fort buildings. NARC was located in the fort in 1915, after the military abandoned the facility in 1911. The fort originally was approved by the state legislature to hold a college, but that project was never funded. The local college, now Montana State University-Northern, was located in Havre in 1928 instead. No new buildings were constructed for the operation of the research center until 1991, when a multipurpose shop and storage building was authorized and erected primarily through private and business contributions to its funding. The Legislature authorized new funds in 2001, with a 1-to-1 match required, which led to the creation of a state-of-the-art, low-stress cattle-handling facility for NARC. The plans for using the newest legislative funding are to erect several new buildings to house the research center’s operations, including a new office and meeting and laboratory building that will include space for new physiology and seed labs. Building a new calving barn and a new pesticide storage and handling building are also planned. Carlson said that the construction of the buildings could begin as early as this spring, if enough money is raised through the fundraising. Some plans could be put on hold, otherwise, he added. Carlson said the construction of the new chemical facility might not take place, although the designs for the structure are completed and would be ready once funding is available. For more information, contact the Northern Agricultural Research Center at 265-6115.