(SWITZ CITY) - Big changes are coming to the offices at the Purdue Extension Greene County Office at the fairgrounds, located east of Switz City on State Road 54.
Nick Schneider of the Greene County Daily World reports that the Greene County Council members were briefed Monday by County Commissioner Rick Graves on preliminary planned interior and exterior renovations to the Greene County Extension Service building.
The county owns the land on which the Extension Service building now sits; however, most of the surrounding property is owned by 4-H Clubs of Greene County, Inc.
The 150 feet x 80 feet building is presently occupied by the Greene County/Purdue University Extension Service on the east-side and the offices of the Greene County Community Foundation on the west-side of the facility.
One of the features of the renovation will be the addition of two new conference room areas -- bringing the total to three, which can be used by the various clubs associated with the Extension Service, 4-H, Extension Homemakers, Ag, public and Foundation functions.
Graves acknowledged that the Extension Service building is used extensively, nearly every night.
The office hosts meetings and is generating some revenue from rentals for wedding receptions, tool sales, flea markets, birthday, graduation parties and other functions.
"If you've been by there at night, the parking lot is not well lit and the parking lot is not big enough if we have any kind of function over there. It (the building) just needs some help," Graves told the council. "It is being used almost every day. It really is used a lot."
In the renovation, the Foundation offices are proposed to move to a new 50 feet by 80 feet addition on the east side of the building that will also be used by the Extension Service.
The addition, as drawn on preliminary sketches by the Vincennes-based architect firm of Myszak and Palmer, will include: a vestibule, an Extension Services reception area, four offices as well as conference room area, two rest rooms and storage space.
The existing side of the building is proposed to get an interior make-over that will re-align a conference room in the area now occupied by the Foundation office, the addition of two rest rooms with access to the large 7,838 square feet community/exhibition room, the addition of storage areas, a break room and a renovation to the Purdue Extension work/office area.
Preliminary cost estimates for the work are in the $800,000 range, according to county councilman Gregg Roudebush.
Graves wasn't asking for approval of the plans or any money, but said he was bringing the information to the council in what he called a "for your information kind of a thing".
"We've met probably a dozen times with a group of people trying to upgrade the 4-H Extension building. It started out last year at budget time (in September). We had some water problems over there and need to do some door work and we needed to do some windows. We did do some work and got the situation corrected and we have got the water stopped," Graves said. "Now, we've looked at replacing the windows and doors and we find out that some of the doors are probably not where they should be. They are not handicapped accessible. From efficiency standards, there are a lot of problems with the building. It just needs some upgrades."
He continued, "Once we started talking to the people who use the building, they told us about what they thought they needed. Some of that is not only a larger building but also some remodeling done on the inside of the building. We need the electrical upgraded to get it up to standard."
Pointing to the third revision of the architect's drawing, Graves stressed, "This will probably not be what we end up with. But this is the drawing that we'll start with as we start our fundraising. We'd like this to be a public-private partnership and we are soliciting funds from different sources for this."
Graves said there isn't much grant money available for renovation projects like this one. There are some low-interest loans from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).
"What we are going to try and do now is try and generate some money in the community and see how much private money that we can generate. We would like to come back to you (the county council) at budget time and talk to you about what we need to complete what we've proposed to do here," Graves explained. "We have presented this to the Redevelopment Commission to see what they might be able to help with and see how much money they might be able to put into this project."
The money generated at the Extension office, which rents the community room is not enough to finance the planned renovations, according to Graves.
"We would hope with the upgrades, we will be able to generate enough to maintain it, once we get it built. We don't think there is enough money generated there now to construct it," Graves said.
Councilman Gregg Roudebush asked if it might be cheaper to just build something new from scratch.
Graves, who owns a construction company in Switz City, replied, "I really don't think so. I think it would be twice (the cost) of this from what we are going to get here."
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