Grant County Conservation District's new building, the Grant County Farm Service Center.
Grant County Conservation District moved into a brand new office building on April 1, 2009. The district had to postpone its Open House celebration due to weather slowing down final landscaping and other outside finishing work, but it will be held soon. The board of directors committed their own time, labor and equipment to help in the construction, significantly reducing costs. That is a success story, to be sure. But there is more to the story…
Members of the staff of the district, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Services Agency were having lunch in the old office building one day a few years ago. They got to talking about the fact that in just the past two years they had lost Don Clover, NRCS technician, and Donna Reed, FSA programs technician, to cancer. Terri McCoy, also an FSA employee, was battling breast cancer and undergoing chemo-therapy. They were all wondering if something in the office building could possibly be to blame.
Emily Routon, the FSA county executive director at the time, asked her state office to conduct some tests on water, air, etc., in the office building. FSA contacted an independent entity to conduct three separate tests for radon, mold and mildew. After the second test results came back --all testing extremely high in all three categories, agencies in the building were told on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006, that they had to be out by Monday, Aug. 28, 2006!
The city of Medford didn’t have a facility for all the agencies to move to, so the Grant CCD moved into the County Commissioner District No. 2 shop building. FSA moved into the City of Medford’s conference room and NRCS worked out of the Enid NRCS field office. Then FSA staff found some trailers to use temporarily and they used the district's lot to put them on, hooked them up to sewer, water and electricity and moved into them on September 20, 2006. (See photo – District staff said they were adequate, but perhaps barely a step above tents on the lawn!)
“We were never given an explanation of why there was so much radon, mold and mildew,” said Judy Ediger, district secretary, “but we all think it was because the ventilation system in the old building was a closed system, no fresh air was vented in.” The building owner was not interested in making changes to the improve the situation.
The district board had kicked around the idea of a new building for some time, but was unable to get a consensus of motivation among all the parties involved. When forced to begin, the district and other parties found the construction bid process to be a daunting one requiring several attempts. Finally, an acceptable bid was approved — the bid submitted by the conservation district.
The directors brought their own tractors and rented scrapers from Kay County Conservation District. “The district finally broke ground and built the building pad, which saved us lots of money over hiring a contractor to build the pad,” Ediger said. The rest was built by Boehs Construction, the same company that built buildings for Kay County, Kingfisher County and Alfalfa County Conservation Districts.
“We did things a bit different,” Ediger said. “We have a geothermal heat and air system, sprayed-on insulation, and concrete driveway and parking. We have used Danny Kilian's (district chairman) tractors several times to spread gravel and level up the parking area and driveway,” she said. “They are going to meet and paint the parking lot spaces as soon as the paint comes in and the weather permits,” she said.
“The directors gave of their time and equipment to build the pad, which saved us lots of money,” Ediger said. “They have pitched in at every opportunity and stayed actively involved throughout the whole procedure. The Grant County Commissioners have also been great partners in our building process by providing machinery and employees to help with the dirt work. If it hadn't been for the directors’ determination, I don't know what might have happened to our Grant County USDA and district offices. There wasn't anyone else determined enough to stick to the whole bidding and building process, which took over three and a half years,” she said.
The success story continues as the district and other tenants appreciate the improved environment. “We're all really proud and can't wait to show it off to everyone,” Ediger said.
Photos of the Grant County Conservation District's new building in process.