10/05/04 — Duplin officials tour new farm center

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Duplin officials tour new farm center

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on October 5, 2004 2:00 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Duplin County officials got an up-close look Monday at the construction of a new agricultural building and 2,000-seat arena that they hope will generate pride and revenues for the county.

Two groups of about 15 people each took turns riding across the road from James Sprunt Community College to tour the two projects.

They first walked through the county's new $3.3 million agricultural building that is being built by Group III of Kinston.

Group III is ahead of schedule, and the agricultural building should be finished by the end of March.

Dixie General Contractors of Wallace, which is working on the $7.6 million multi-purpose arena behind and to the left of the agricultural building, is on schedule. That building should be finished by the end of August 2005.

The agricultural building's steel frame, partially covered with a green material, is really three buildings in one, joined by a central entrance and a room that will seat 250 people. The building will house the Soil Conservation office, the Farm Service Agency and Cooperative Extension Service. The tour guide was Extension Director Ed Emory.

The tour group filed past the steel posts marking the boundaries of the offices and other rooms inside the agricultural building. A loading dock for Soil Conservation is in the back, and beside it are the locker rooms and showers for use by both Soil Conservation and Cooperative Extension Service agents.

"This thing is bigger than I thought," said County Commissioner Reginald Wells. He said later the Duplin Commons projects are going to be good for Duplin County.

It's bigger than it looks from the road, said Commissioner Chairman L.S. Guy.

"It's mighty fine looking," he said later in the tour. "I can see a lot of opportunities here. ... It's going to bring income to Duplin County."

"If we can just find enough money to pay the light bill and the janitors," said Commissioner Arliss Albertson, who voted against awarding the contracts in mid-February. He supported the agricultural building, but not the arena, because he doesn't think it can pay its way.

The group boarded the van again and rode on a separate path from the highway back to the pre-cast concrete monoliths that will become the supporting structure of the arena. The pre-cast supports are banking a metal skeleton between them.

The arena seats on the sides will hold 2,006 people when it's finished, and more seats can be added to the floor space between them. Offices and meeting rooms will be at one end and a second floor mezzanine at the other end.

The arena will be the center piece of the new 22-acre fairgrounds, said Emory. "You can have high school graduations here, where you don't have to give out tickets, where everyone can come."

"It's going to be great when they open for them to say, 'We've got six months of bookings,'" said Wells.

"I can hardly wait," said Commissioner Larry Howard. "I wish it'd open right now. I foresee good things happening here. We will have plenty of places to hold meetings. If it's done like it ought to be, we can make some money."