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New OSU extension building planned

The Monroe County Ohio State University Extension Office is moving closer to construction of its new facility with the project set to go out for bids next week and hopes of beginning construction in the spring.

Mary Jo Westfall, OSU Extension Office associate, met with the Monroe County Board of Commissioners on Monday morning to provide an update on the project. Westfall said she wanted to meet with newly appointed commissioners Diane Burkhart and Bill Bolon, as well as longtime Commissioner Mick Schumacher, to bring the trio up to speed on the progress of the project.

“Since we have two new commissioners, I wanted to introduce myself and to let them know about this project coming up in case they had questions or concerns,” she said following the meeting. “They seem really supportive of the project, and we appreciate that.”

The extension office has been working to construct the new facility since 2018. However, due to a lack of funding, the project was originally put on hold. The project now has around $800,000 in funding available through the Extension Levy Fund, which includes tax revenue from the oil and gas industry.

The new facility is set to be constructed at the Monroe County Fairgrounds in Woodsfield. Once built, the 6,400 square foot facility will include numerous extension offices and meeting rooms, Westfall said.

“It will include office space for the extension office. There will also be a large conference room to hold meetings and programs in, along with a smaller conference room for smaller meetings and programs,” she said.

The facility will also include three rooms for the fair board to utilize. The fair board donated the property to the county for the facility to be constructed on, Westfall said.

Although the project’s estimated cost is not yet known, Westfall said it will soon be provided once the architect has completed the bid packet. In 2018, the low bid for the project was $800,000.

Westfall said the project is crucial to provide members of the extension office a place to hold programming.

“While it will hold the extension office, it’s more important for our clientele, the people of Monroe County, because this is a place to meet and hold our programming,” she said.

The Monroe County OSU Extension Office currently resides inside the county’s courthouse. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, holding meetings there has been difficult. Westfall said this is true not only because of restrictions but also due to lack of meeting space and security measures.

“We’re not able to hold meetings in the evening anymore while we’re at the courthouse because of courthouse security rules. Most of our meetings are held in the evening when most people are off work,” she said.

Westfall said the office staff is looking forward to the project’s completion and to better serving clients.

“We’re excited to finally have a space that we can serve our clientele — residents of Monroe County — so we’re pretty excited about that,” she said.

Westfall said she hopes to begin construction in the spring and have the project complete by the end of the year.

The project will go out to bid next week. A bid opening is set for 10 a.m. Feb. 8 during the commissioners’ weekly meeting at the courthouse.

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