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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
The Orr Corporation and John Wood Community College (JWCC) officially broke ground on Tuesday, Aug. 24, on a 24,000 square foot multipurpose agriculture facility at the JWCC Agriculture Center outside Perry.
Of the construction project’s total budget of approximately $2.2 million, the Orr Corporation has raised approximately $1.8 million – all from the private sector.
“This would not be possible without our donors,” Orr Corporation President Matt Bradshaw said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “It’s very important that all of the funding has come from private sources.”
According to Bradshaw, the new facility in Perry will benefit the region for generations.
“We think that there is extremely strong need for this,” Bradshaw said. “The dynamics of crop production and animal production have changed dramatically over the last couple decades. The new facility will give us the space and equipment to do things outside the classroom. This new facility will improve the lives of thousands over its life.”
Bradshaw went on to say that no new facilities have been constructed at the agronomic portion of the Orr Agricultural Education Center for over 25 years.
“The last building constructed was the chemical shed,” Bradshaw said. “I helped build it when I was here as an intern in 1994.”
According to JWCC Agriculture Department Chair Mike Tenhouse, the new building will serve three purposes at the ag center – adding needed office and classroom space, housing a livestock exposition hall and housing an animal care facility.
“It will allow us to do a better job teaching in the areas of animal care and animal husbandry,” Tenhouse said. “We’ll be able to teach swine and equine classes with live animals there.”
Tenhouse said that new building will allow for more classes to be taught at the facility, and it will allow complete agricultural curriculum to be taught.
“We’re usually strapped for space,” Tenhouse said. “This gives us more flexibility with scheduling. Of course, the arena and the animal care wing give us resources to we didn’t have before.”
JWCC president Mike Elbe also said the new facility will allow for the JWCC ag program to better partner with Illinois Department of Natural Resources and University of Illinois Extension to co-host events and programming.
“It will be a facility that can be utilized for a broad array of uses,” Elbe said. “It allows us to engage a variety of partners. Once it is complete, and people can see it – it will only bring new partners on board.”
While current fundraising only accounts for $1.8 million, and the total project budget is estimated at $2.2 million, the $2.2 million figure accounts for animal handling and care equipment as well as soft costs like landscaping around the new building, so the college feels comfortable moving forward with the project.
Construction of the building, according to Tenhouse, will commence next month, and construction is completed by spring or early summer of 2022.
“We’re hoping to start move some dirt around and do the concrete work in September,” Tenhouse said. “The rest of the building materials are scheduled to be delivered in October. We hope to be under roof by winter, so the rest of the inside work can happen over the winter.”
Individuals and businesses interested in donating funds to the Orr Corporation for the project are encouraged to contact Bradshaw at email@example.com or by calling 217-248-3239.