03/30/05 — Duplin Commons project advancing

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Duplin Commons project advancing

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 30, 2005 1:45 PM

KENANSVILLE -- County employees may be moving into the new agricultural office building at Duplin Commons around the first of June, said Jimmy White, the project's manager.

White said he hopes to be finished with the 2,000-seat event center by mid-September.

Work on the $7.6 million events center is nearly half finished and work on the $3.3 million office building is about 85 percent complete, White said.

White said he hopes to have a certificate of occupancy by May 13 from the building inspector. He said he expects to have a few punch-list items to wrap up before moving into the building in June.

Bad weather has slowed work on the project some, he said, but paving and seating work is expected to begin shortly.

The first event at the Duplin Commons Agribusiness Center will be a Muscadine Harvest Festival on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. The festival is sponsored by the Duplin Agribusiness Council.

Billboards advertising the festival will be going up soon, said Lynn Davis, one of the festival's organizers.

Twenty wineries are expected to participate.

But the festival isn't aimed at wine connoisseurs, she said. Organizers are hoping as many as 10,000 people will attend seminars on the health benefits of the grapes' seeds and hulls and how to grow the grapes themselves. There also will be historical presentations about the muscadine's rich heritage in North Carolina and exhibits of muscadine jellies and jams, a cooking contest and a concert on the grounds.