• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

WCCD celebrates milestone in agriculture history

In December, the Woodford County Conservation District (WCCD) made its final payment on a loan to pay for the Agriculture Resource Building – a year early.

A ceremonial check presented to Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle by the WCCD Board of Supervisors last month represented many hours of hard work by the local farming community and many others to turn a vision into reality.

“We’re just very, very pleased and honored that we could do it,” said Martha Newby. She became WCCD operations manager after the Agriculture Resource Building was constructed 24 years ago and remained in that role until she retired in 2016.

Built in 1994, the Agriculture Resource Building remains the only known facility in a Kentucky county where all of its agriculture-related agencies: Conservation District, Farm Service Agency, Extension Service, and Natural Resources Conservation Service as well as Fish and Wildlife are under one roof.

This significant milestone in Woodford County agriculture history became a possibility only after the WCCD Board of Supervisors had a meeting with representatives from other agriculture-related agencies on Sept. 7, 1993. “They wanted to go in with us,” said Harold Carmickle, who served on the WCCD Board of Supervisors until this year. “It just seemed like that was the thing we ought to do,” he added. Subsequent meetings and further discussions allowed the Woodford County Soil Conservation District to secure a 25-year loan through a (Kentucky Association of Counties) leasing/financing arrangement with Woodford Fiscal Court and proceed with the construction of a $387,000 Agriculture Resource Building on 1.25 acres of land donated by the county. “We ended up saying: Okay, we’ll do it, and the rest is history,” said Newby.

Thirty-two people attended a groundbreaking ceremony on April 12, 1994 at the site of the Agriculture Resource Building on Beasley Drive in the Woodford County Park. The building was the first stop on the 29th annual Woodford County Farm Tour on July 30, and a ribbon cutting ceremony followed on Sept. 6, 1994.

Whether a Woodford County farmer described their new Agriculture Resource Building as the “one stop shop” or “ag mall,” Newby said, “Everybody was thrilled.

“They had places to pull in with their goose-neck trailers. They had places to bring in their big trucks or whatever – and not have to worry about parking at the courthouse or finding a parking place at the courthouse.”

“It was the ideal setup,” said Coyle.

Those who did have apprehensions about the inconvenience of driving to the new Agriculture Resource Building instead of attending Extension Service homemakers meetings in the basement of the Woodford County Courthouse were soon won over by being able to park right outside the front door of their new meeting place in the Woodford County Park.

“You wonder where did everybody meet, before we had that (Agriculture Resource) building because that place is busy every day and most evenings … A lot of activity goes in and out of there,” said Donald Mitchell, a longtime member of the WCCD Board of Supervisors.

The Woodford County Conservation District and Natural Resources Conservation Service were both located on the second-floor of the courthouse before moving to Lexington Road. Seven years later, those farm agencies and others found a home at the new Agriculture Resource Building.

“We worked well together anyway,” said Newby of the farm agencies, “but we’ve done a whole lot more projects together and a whole lot more involved in different things together” since the Agriculture Resource Building opened its doors.

Besides being a convenient location where local farmers can access information and also sign up for federal and state agriculture programs, WCCD operations manager Jimmy Chambers said the Agriculture Resource Building offers meeting spaces for 4-H programming, local homemaker classes and other educational gatherings.

Chambers said projects such as installing new carpet in the Mackie Room, and audio and visual technology in that meeting space have been undertaken, with the loan on the original portion of the Agriculture Resource Building now paid off.

A plaque near its front door identified the WCCD Board of Supervisors as Donald Mitchell (chair), Charles Kaenzig (vice chair), Randolph Cotton (secretary/treasurer), Claude Kaenzig, Herman Pittman, David Lloyd, Harold Carmickle and Hensley Mackie, the namesake of the Agriculture Resource Building’s “Mackie Room.” The general contractor of the building erected in 1994 was Woodford Steel, Inc.

In addition to their noteworthy contributions to the project, Newby pointed out that many others in Woodford County supported this significant initiative to turn the dream of an Agriculture Resource Building into a reality.

“I don’t think any other Conservation District had ever taken on a project like that,” said Donald Mitchell, “so it was a proud moment (to pay off that loan). I’m proud of Woodford County and Fiscal Court and everyone who supported us in this endeavor.”

Donations of over $100,000 included furnishings from the Woodford County Farm Bureau Federation and local homemakers as well as a tree grant from the Division of Forestry; with labor donations coming from the Woodford County Road Department. Also, Parks and Recreation did snow removal and provided mowing services for 20 years; and more recently, inmates provided the labor to paint walls and install new flooring in the basement of the Agriculture Resource Building.

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