By Tim Leeds 

Grand opening set at NARC field day Tuesday


The annual field day set for Tuesday at the world-class agricultural research station southwest of Havre has a special event this year, celebrating the first major construction of buildings at its site since before it was created.

Northern Agricultural Research Center's annual field day includes the grand opening of its new office and lab complex and livestock operations barn.

Havre Daily News/Nikki Carlson

Northern Agricultural Research Center agronomy staffers Anthony Wirtzberger, left, checks harvest identification tags while Eric Olson looks at glass vials that will display seed samples Thursday afternoon in the new NARC building's Seed Lab.

"It's an outstanding thing," acting Superintendent Darrin Boss said this morning, adding that he jokes about how "it's nice to look out your windows and see the weather instead of having it come in your window."

The annual field day includes tours of the operations of the research center, which opened in 1915 at the decommissioned U.S. Cavalry's Fort Assinniboine.

Boss said the tours include one on beef cattle work and two agronomic tours. The afternoon also includes a special tour of the history of the center, and another of the historic fort.

Boss said that, unfortunately, the driving force behind the construction of the new building will not be able to attend.

Superintendent Gregg Carlson, who headed the center when the construction was planned, funded and began, suffered a brain injury when he slipped on ice in a Havre parking lot last winter.

Boss said Carlson is undergoing rehabilitation at Craig Hospital in Denver, and is making progress, but will not be able to attend the grand opening.

The center performed its work out of the historical buildings of the fort until the new buildings opened last winter.

Boss said working out of the fort buildings was a good experience, but it was time to move to new, more efficient space. He added that the ground-source heat and efficiency of the buildings appear to be helping in operations expense as well as the efficiency of the research.

"We hope to keep servicing the local farmers and ranchers as well as we did in the past hundred years," he said. "We don't want to stop here, but hopefully are strategically positioned for the next hundred years."

The buildings were paid for with funding from the state, with a required local match made up by donations and the research center.

"It is really humbling when someone hands you a check, saying, 'Thanks for all the work you've done since 1915, and we hope you are here for another hundred years,'" Boss said.

The field day begins at 8 a.m. Tuesday with registration, followed by the agricultural tours starting at 9 a.m. A lunch sponsored by local businesses will begin at noon, followed by the grand opening of the buildings at 1 p.m.

Boss said people will be able to look through the buildings until the ag tours are repeated at 2 p.m., with two special tours added.

One will be conducted by retired NARC Superintendent Don Anderson, who will talk about the history of the research at the center.

Boss said it wil show "how did we get from 1915 to today, and where will we go in the next hundred years."

Gary Wilson, president of the Fort Assinniboine Preservation Association, also will give a tour of the fort in the afternoon.

"People can bring their families and enjoy some of the history of the fort," Boss said.


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