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Dirt Work Begins On New Fairgrounds Site
Press conference on $950,000 project held Wednesday morning

By LAURA SCHULER/C-T City Editor, Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Click to see a larger image!Caption: Dirt work has already begun just northeast of the Agri-Science Learning Center to prepare for construction of a new Livingston County 4-H and FFA Fairgrounds. The new fairgrounds will include several new buildings including a 9,500 square-foot multi-purpose building with a kitchen, a 16,800 square-foot cattle building, two 10,000 square-foot buildings for hogs, sheep, goats, chickens and other small animals and an 8,000 square-foot horse barn. An outdoor arena, a campground and a picnic area are also included in the plans for the new fairgrounds.

C-T Photo/Laura Schuler

Caption: Several representatives from the contributing local foundations, Chillicothe R-2 School District andClick to see larger image! Livingston County Fair board were on hand January 18, 2006, at the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center during a press conference announcing the relocation of the Livingston County 4-H and FFA Fairgrounds. Pictured are, from left: Bonnie Mitchell, of the Jerry Litton Foundation, John Irvin, of the Mervyn W. Jenkins Foundation, Mildred Litton, and Jim Summerville, of the Jerry Litton Foundation. Back row, from left: Brian Eggers, fair board president; Steve Radcliff, of the fair board; Merle Doughty, of the Jerry Litton Foundation, Ed Turner, of the Jerry Litton Foundation, Robert Peters, of the fair board, Ron Greener, of the Mervyn W. Jenkins Foundation; Jim Schreiner, of the fair board, Robert Cowherd, of the Mervyn W. Jenkins Foundation; E.L. Reed, of the Jerry Litton Foundation; Dale Wallace, R-2 superintendent; and David Williams, R-2 board president. C-T Photo/Laura Schuler

The Livingston County 4-H and FFA Fairgrounds will move to the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center and dirt work on the new site in north Chillicothe is currently underway. The announcement was made January 18, 2006 during a morning press conference at the Litton Center attended by R-2 officials, representatives of several local foundations, and Fair Board Association members. The project, which is estimated to cost $950,000, will include the construction of new buildings including a 9,500 square-foot multi-purpose building with a kitchen, a 16,800 square-foot cattle building, two 10,000 square-foot buildings for hogs, sheep, goats, chickens, and other small animals, and an 8,000 square-foot horse barn. Officials also announced that an outdoor arena, a campground and a picnic area will also be constructed. Grants from three major local foundations are footing most of the bill for the massive construction project which is expected to commence in full force this fall.

Specifically, the Mervyn W. Jenkins Foundation has pledged $600,000, the Jerry Litton Foundation has pledged $250,000 and the Roger A. Browning Foundation has pledged $100,000. Officials have announced that the R-2 school district and fair board are also accepting additional pledges for special projects such as adding additional livestock pens, gates and bleachers. Robert Cowherd, president of the Mervyn W. Jenkins Foundation, remarked that the project was a long time in coming, and he was glad to have work started on it. "On behalf of the Mervyn W. Jenkins Foundation, we are very pleased to make a grant to assist the youth and farming community of the area," Cowherd said. Ed Turner, vice president of the Jerry Litton Foundation, was also on hand for the announcement and noted that the Litton Agri-Science Learning Center is one of only three in the country and termed the relocation of the existing 4-H and FFA Fairgrounds a "perfect fit" with the learning center. "This will lead to more efficient use of the facilities here and expands the presence of the facility which is unique not only in Missouri but across the country," Turner said. He added, "We are proud to work as partners with the other foundations to make this project happen."

The county fair and the agricultural department at the Grand River Technical School will use the new and existing facility jointly and, once finished, the multi-purpose building will be made available to the public during the year for rental purposes. Ron Wolf, Grand River Technical School co-director, spoke to the group on the noticeable increasing popularity of FFA and agriculture classes. Specifically, Wolf noted that in 1971, Chillicothe R-2 had 80 agriculture students, 60 of which lived on family farms. Now, Wolf explained, there are over 200 Chillicothe FFA members and only 30 live on their respective family farms. "The need for agriculture and its related careers are still there, which makes it necessary to provide agriculture education to those students who donšt receive it on the family farm," Wolf said.

Crawford Construction Company is currently leveling the grounds of the new fairgrounds and putting in existing roads as well as leveling the building sites. Construction bids are expected to be awarded within the next few weeks on the multi-purpose and livestock buildings after the plans for them are approved by the fair board and FFA advisers. The plan for moving the fairgrounds from its site east of town formulated several years ago, but began moving forward in earnest after the fair board voted to pursue the opportunity to move the fairgrounds to a permanent location in September 2004. At the time the vote was taken, the fair board leased the 20-acre facility from the city on a one-year basis. "There were two or three other options (sites) that we explored, but the Litton Center was just the best choice," Jim Schreiner, fair board member and building committee member said January, 17, 2006. He added, "The fairgrounds are for the youth of Livingston County, and the youth will get more use out of it there than if it were anywhere else."

The Litton Agri-Science Learning Center currently consists of 36 acres and features a classroom, laboratory, and livestock facilities which are used by agriculture students and FFA members throughout the year. According to Wolf, the future cattle buildings and two small livestock buildings on the fairgrounds will be almost identical in size in terms of square-footage to the ones currently being used at the existing fairgrounds. The multi-purpose building will house the 4-H exhibits as well as an indoor arena where the county's youth will exhibit their animals. "The way these buildings are designed, that can be changed," Wolf said, explaining that the livestock buildings may be used to house different species depending on their popularity from year to year. Both Wolf and Schreiner reported that the plans for the new fairgrounds include adequate space for parking, and plenty of areas for campground and picnic sites. The 2006 Livingston County Fair will be held at the current site on U.S. Highway 36 at the Chillicothe Municipal Airport.

Grading plan as of January 31, 2006

You may download the grading plan for the Livingston Co. Fairgrounds site as a pdf file. The file is 555KB, so please wait for it to download if you are on a dial-up connection. If you have any questions, contact Ronald R. Urton Jr., P.E., Shafer, Kline & Warren, Inc., Ph 660/646-9788.

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