John W. Barnett, Coreil, Paul D., Chaney, John A., Richardson, William B. | 7/30/2005 12:12:04 AM
ALEXANDRIA – LSU AgCenter officials and other dignitaries ceremonially ‘broke ground’ for the new AgCenter’s Dean Lee Livestock Facilities and Sales Arena south of here Tuesday (July 26).
The facilities, located on the LSU AgCenter’s Dean Lee Research and Extension Center property adjacent to LSU-Alexandria, actually are already under construction.
"This facility will allow kids to visit the (LSU-A) campus when they show their animals," said state Rep. Charlie DeWitt, D-Alexandria, who led efforts to obtain funding for the facility. "They will be more familiar with the campus and know it is here."
The 70,000 square foot facility will include a livestock arena and stalling area with enough space to host the Central Louisiana District 4-H and FFA Livestock Show, an air-conditioned auction arena and meeting room to seat 200 people, offices, a conference room, a concession stand and a classroom to be shared with the LSU-Alexandria campus.
Since the facilities are being constructed on La. Hwy. 71 just south of the LSU-Alexandria campus, planners designed the facility to blend in with the existing buildings and landscape on that campus.
"Rep. Charlie DeWitt’s leadership in the Legislature is the reason we are here today celebrating the ground breaking," said Dr. Bill Richardson, chancellor of the LSU AgCenter, adding, "When it’s finished, this facility will be used to support youth livestock projects and the state’s agricultural industries."
With dump trucks hauling dirt and earth-moving equipment operating in the background to build the foundation for the building, more than 75 supporters listened to officials and witnessed the ceremonial ground breaking for this facility.
"Louisiana is an agricultural state," Richardson stressed.
Production agriculture in Louisiana contributed more than $10 billion to the state’s economy in 2004, according to the Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources published by the LSU AgCenter. More specifically, for the 13 Central Louisiana parishes, agriculture returned $1.25 billion to the local economy.
"This facility supports the agricultural industries in the state, especially livestock," said Dr. Paul Coreil, vice chancellor and director of Extension for the LSU AgCenter.
Since the new multi-purpose facility will be located in the center of the state, it is designed to attract more livestock shows, livestock production sales, horse events and commodity meetings, officials say.
"4-H Club livestock and horse shows bring families together," said Coreil, stressing that strong families are important in developing communities.
"Developing and educating young people is economic development," said Coreil, adding, "Having LSU-Alexandria as a four-year university and this facility located together is good for the community."
Dr. John Barnett, the LSU AgCenter’s regional director for Central Louisiana, also characterized it as a "win-win situation."
Barnett said the 6,000 square foot, air-conditioned auction facilities, which seat 200 people, will be used to host livestock auctions and agricultural commodity meetings. Auctions at the site will include the Central Louisiana District 4-H and FFA Livestock Sale, Dean Lee Research Station Performance Bull Sales, several state breed associations sales, 4-H Club prospect livestock sales and perhaps association horse sales. The auction room also will be used for agricultural commodity meetings for producers of such crops as cotton, grain and forestry, as well as other field days and other meetings that attract large crowds.
The large covered arena will be used for horse and livestock shows in Central Louisiana. It is of sufficient size to offer all the classes in a horse show. During other livestock shows, portable show pens will be set up in the arena to exhibit cattle, swine, sheep, goats and other small animals.
The LSU AgCenter’s Rapides Parish Extension Office moved to the Dean Lee Research Station property last year. Now this $2.9 million facility offers another opportunity for the public to acquire the agricultural knowledge and skill they need all in one location – what is coming to be known as the Dean Lee Research and Extension Center, officials say.
The facility is expected to be completed by July 2006.
For more information or to schedule an event in the facility, contact Buddy Ortego at (318) 473-6520.
"This economic development project will support the youth and agricultural industries in the future," said Barnett.
Bill Richardson at (225)578-4161 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Coreil at (225) 578-1938 or email@example.com
John Barnett at (318) 427-4424 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlie DeWitt at (318) 442-1513 or email@example.com