Saturday, June 25 2022

RANDOLPH COUNTY — After receiving updated artwork earlier this month, the Randolph County Board of Commissioners at their regular May meeting approved HH Architecture’s schematic design proposal for an agricultural center.

Kristen Hess, Principal Architect at HH Architecture, presented an overview of the programming study and a proposal for the design, tender and construction administration of the latest iteration of the Farm Education Center project , Food, and Family (F3). Renderers now have an event center; cooperative extension, soil and water offices; commercial kitchen; meeting spaces; showroom with concessions; outdoor arena for livestock shows and sales; and a proposed maker space.

“[This will be] a place where people can come and build and create things in a physical sense,” Hess said. “Then it will allow them to catapult their ideas and hopefully their entrepreneurial spirit into the county.

“As you well know, this is an important development for your county, and it is to serve agriculture in this county, which is a great economic engine.”

With recent state funding and county fund allocation, Randolph has taken the next step to bring a new facility to its residents. HH Architecture has already been selected as the designer for this project, and its completed programming study for the newly reconfigured project follows more than half a decade of discussions around various similar proposals.

As Hess presented, the curators were briefed on the importance of each element of the design, intended to maximize the impact of the proposed project.

“You’ll have a presence,” Hess said of the main entrance. “You’ll have a front door that says ‘This is Randolph County. We are here and we promote agriculture. I think that’s the most important thing is that you have a sense of pride, you plant a flag there. “It’s our land, and we’re doing something cool for the whole county.”

The commissioners also approved a budget amendment which deputy county manager Will Massie said only shifts money that had already been set aside for the project. Once approved, the construction and architectural costs were allocated to cover the contract as proposed.

Hess said budget items are still fluid, but projected the cost of the project to be around $30 million.

“Right now we’re at $29,564,000,” Hess said. “I know it’s a big number, but I think it’s a realistic number. … From a timeline perspective, we’re talking about conceiving until spring of next year, putting out a call for offers next summer, to move in and be open to the public in early 2025.”

Vice President David Allen expressed appreciation for the work done by Hess’s cabinet and that of state lawmakers who were instrumental in securing additional funds. Allen mentioned outgoing Rep. Pat Hurley, among others, praising the officials for their efforts.

Hurley will serve out the remainder of her term this year after being defeated in this month’s primary by Brian Biggs.

“I want to thank the committee who worked so hard on this,” Allen said. “I know [Rep.] Allen McNeil was one of them, we appreciate the funding that he and Pat Hurley, and Senator Dave Craven, provided. We are grateful for that, and the good start that provided us. I feel good about the work of the committee.

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