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Renovations at agriculture center near completion

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Jonathan Boone gives a tour of the Nash Agriculture Center Monday in Nashville.

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Nash County Cooperative Extension Director Sandy Hall and her team, after nearly a year of temporarily being stationed in downtown Nashville, are elated about soon returning to their regular offices on the east side of town.

“We’ve been in a shared space where we sit pretty much right next to each other,” Hall said. “And everyone is looking forward to getting back to their own space in their offices and getting back organized and moving forward.”

The cooperative extension service, along with Soil and Water Conservation and the federal Farm Service Agency, were shifted to the Claude Mayo Jr. Administration Building after mildew began appearing in the Nash County Agriculture Center in the summer of 2018.

The county also decided to go ahead and do renovation work on the center. The center dates back to 1976, is about 30,000 square feet in size and includes an auditorium.

“We’re looking to start moving some of those individuals back in the building by the end of this month,” said Jonathan Boone, the county’s director of public utilities and facilities.

Boone said the work, which began in April, is costing about $550,000.

Boone said the center previously had been renovated a couple of times but said the summer of 2018 was quite a wet one. Boone said the county started facing issues of high amounts of humidity inside.

He said a contractor determined the center’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system was reaching the end of its life.

Boone said the county in August relocated the cooperative extension service, Soil and Water Conservation and the FSA but let the Nash County Board of Elections remain in its location on the far west side of the center.

He said the center has seven units designed to control air conditioning and heating and that the unit controlling the area of the board of elections office seemed to be doing a better job than the rest.

“But we went ahead and decided to replace ’em all,” he said.

He said the county spent about half of the money on the HVAC system and on adding dehumidifying units.

He said all of the interior has been repainted except for the elections office, which is decorated in fairly new wallpaper.

He said the project also included installing new ceiling tiles, replacing the fluorescent lighting system with an LED system, upgrading kitchenettes, upgrading the cooperative extension service’s educational kitchen and replacing the counter tops, faucets and sinks in the rest rooms used by the employees and in the rest rooms used by the public.

The county was able to relocate the cooperative extension service and the FSA to the Mayo Building by using space behind the Nash County Board of Commissioners meeting room and by decommissioning the wellness area for county employees.

“We made due,” Boone said.

Hall made clear that her and her team being in the Mayo Building is not an ideal setup for clients.

“However, we’ve made it work,” Hall said. “There hasn’t been anything that we don’t normally do on a calendar year that we’ve missed because of the building.”

Hall, 49, has worked more than two decades in the agriculture center and has been the extension center’s director for more than three years.

Hall said the educational kitchen desperately needed an upgrade and will have new appliances. In fact, she said, basic cooking classes have been held off-site in the meantime.

She noted she is counting on Aug. 1 as the time she and her team will be back in the center. That would be a few days before she turns 50.

“So I’m seeing this as my birthday present,” she said with a laugh.

As for the county’s bottom line in doing such extensive work, Boone, with a laugh, said, “We hope to have a building that will last us another 15 or 20 years before we have to touch it again.”

The center also is near and dear to Boone, 49, because a science fair was held there when he was a student at Nash Central Junior High School.

“I won first place that year,” he noted.

Mike Phillips, 41, the county’s assistant director of utilities and facilities, said of the renovation, “It won’t be a brand-new building but a much nicer-looking building, a more efficient building.”

As for what his thoughts will be when the work is finished, Phillips said, “I’ll be glad when this one is completed but there’ll be another one to move onto fairly quickly I’m sure.”