Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The agricultural research center south of Havre is set to work on two new buildings in which to conduct its research. The center staff is hopeful that enough last-minute donations will come in to erect a third. “At present, it looks like we are getting really close to pulling off all three,” said Gregg Carlson, superintendent of the Northern Agricultural Research Center. He said the fundraising has already met its initial goal, but with increasing costs has not quite met what is now needed. “We’re just really impressed with how this has gone,” Carlson said, adding, “it’s important for people to know we are getting close but we are not quite there.” The center has been located in the historic buildings of Fort Assinniboine, about six miles south of Havre, since its start in 1915. With an appropriation by the 2007 state Legislature, construction of three new buildings was planned, with local matches required at $360,000 for a total of $1.8 million for the new construction. Carlson said the local matching funds have already outpaced the requirement, but increased costs have pushed the target up. “Right now we’re guessing it’s right around $1,950,000 to get it all Done,” Carlson said. With donations made to the project and money budgeted by NARC, Carlson said the project has raised about $408,000. Although that is nearly $50,000 more than the original goal, with the increased cost of construction, Carlson said it still is likely to be far short of what is needed. “Right now we could be as close as $45,000 to $50,000, in a best-case scenario,” he said. “In a worst-case scenario we could be up to $100,000 short.” Local farmers and ranchers, other individuals and businesses have contributed some $172,000 for the effort, while NARC has contributed another $236,000 from its budget. The state is providing $1.440.000 through an appropriation made in 2007, contingent on the local match. Carlson said the project will allow the center to move out of the 130-year old buildings at Fort Assinniboine, where the center has been for 93 years, with most of the cost paid by the state. “It’s not often you get one buck to turn into five,” he said. Once the bids are back and the contractors selected, Carlson said he expects construction to start this summer with the main facility complete by January or February. The plans include erecting a new building for office space, meeting rooms and laboratory space and another facility to use as a calving barn and livestock research facility. Carlson said the center should have enough money for those buildings and the bids on them are expected to go out this month or in May. Construction of the third planned building, a chemical handling facility, will depend on how expensive the bids are on the first two and how much is raised for construction, he said. It would be best if all three buildings could be erected at once, Carlson added the costs are likely to go up if construction of the chemical facility is delayed, and it would be much more efficient if workers were on-site working on all three at once. The work also will help in the preservation and marketing of the historic buildings on the fort, Carlson added. “We’re very proud of the historical side of the place too,” he said. “We try to stay up on that.” The fort was constructed in 1879, at the end of the Plains Indian Wars. The defeat of Col. George Armstrong Custer at Little Big Horn in 1876 and the Battle of the Bear’s Paw, where the Nez Perce finally surrendered to the U.S. Army in 1877, led to the construction of the fort. The fort, the largest in the country west of the Mississippi, was operated by the U.S. Army until it was abandoned in 1911. The state government approved the opening of a college at the site in 1915, but never provided funding for that operation. The agricultural research center was housed at Fort Assinniboine instead, and has operated there since. Carlson said the new buildings will allow NARC to clear out of one building what was the post mail and library facility completely and clear out several rooms of some other buildings. He added that it will probably be at least 20 years until the research center is completely out of the fort buildings. Carlson said people could contact him at 265- 2111, or by e-mail at email@example.com, for more information. He said checks for donations should be made out to LRBP-COA-NARC, which stands for Long Range Building Program, College of Agriculture, Northern Agricultural Research Center, for deposit into a special account set up for the fundraising efforts.