11/15/05 — Duplin Commons complex dedicated

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Duplin Commons complex dedicated

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 15, 2005 1:49 PM

KENANSVILLE -- The new Duplin Commons complex south of Kenansville represents "a celebration of agriculture," said U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, who spoke at a dedication ceremony Monday.

About 300 people attended the event.

The $11.2-million facility is "first-class," McIntyre said, noting the county's importance to agriculture in the state and nation. The money for its construction came from a USDA loan and grant.

North Carolina leads the nation in the amount of federal agricultural money returned for rural development, McIntyre noted.

"It's your money coming back home," he said.

Duplin Cooperative Extension Director Ed Emory said facility meets the county's need for meeting space and to hold its annual agricultural fair.

The agricultural office building in the new complex houses the Cooperative Extension Service, the Soil and Water Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency.

The 74,000 square-foot events center provides plenty of meeting space, and its grounds are spacious enough to hold the annual Duplin County Fair.

"We have been planning for this 30 years," Emory said. "Twenty five years ago a computer we have now on our desk would have filled this room. A fax machine was new technology, and I had a head full of hair."

Tourism Director Robb Wells said Duplin residents have been trying to develop a good site for their fair for many years. The fair wasn't held this year because of the lack of a site.

"What a great time to be in Duplin County," Wells said.

Duplin Commons is the result of much planning, much prayer and many tears, said Reginald Wells, chairman of the Duplin County Board of Commissioners.

"We're expecting great things to happen in the complex of Duplin Commons," Wells said.

The ceremony ended with the presentation of a patchwork quilt made by the Duplin County Extension and Community Association.

Delilah Gomes, corresponding secretary for the ECA's southeastern district covering 13 counties, said the local club made a quilt this spring for a fund-raiser that turned out well, and the 17 members wanted to make one to hang in the new agricultural building. The quilt was promptly placed in the hall outside the auditorium, as Ms. Gomes said, "to showcase our community spirit, exemplify a presence of pride and, most of all, leave an imprint on Duplin history."