Three active projects are in motion at the R.T. Wright Farm as it works to fulfill the University’s Agricultural Science Master Plan.
The three projects are farm manager house replacement, road expansion and a redesigned entrance. Each serve as pre-projects to help get things ready for the Agricultural Learning Center.
Northwest Board of Regents said the original estimate for all three projects together was $1 million. Due to MoDOT specifications, an extra $200,000 has been added to the estimate.
With help from the Maryville school district’s Northwest Technical School, the University is building a new house to replace the old house of the farm manager. The new house will include three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a two car garage and a full basement. Budget estimates made for the project are unknown.
Assistant Vice President of Facility Services and Capital Programs Allen Mays said the new house should be finished in August or September.
“It is anticipated that we will be having a grand opening sometime maybe this summer, maybe in early fall,” Mays said. “We are probably about 75 percent complete with the project.”
The entrance improvements to the farm include the addition of a new turn lane leading into the farm from U.S. Route 71. The University has signed two contracts with Scott Gann Construction for entrance improvements and road expansion. The contract for the entrance improvements states the price for the project at $390,084.
Mays said the winter weather has caused difficulties with all of the projects, but the entrance improvements especially.
“(The entrance improvement) is 15 percent complete,” Mays said. “We will see more activity once this weather passes. (There is) lots of snow and things hindering the contractor’s progress.”
Mays said the weather has not majorly set back any of the projects.
“(The) contractor is working at a pretty good pace,” Mays said. “I think they had an advantage at the start. So as far as how far we are set back based on weather, I would not say too much.”
The road expansion and site improvements include the addition of a new interior road leading to the core of the farm, new signage and fencing by the farm entrance and preparations for the building of the new Agricultural Learning Center. The University’s contract with Scott Gann Construction has stated the cost for the road expansion at $438,528.
The Agricultural Learning Center is a new educational building to be built on the Farm. Agricultural student and Farmworker Ryan Talkington said the Learning Center will include a dairy lab and food science lab. The University has estimated the building to cost about $8.5 million.
Mays said the site improvements were closer to being finished, like the new farmhouse.
“So (the site improvement) is probably 65 to 70 percent complete,” Mays said. “It looks pretty good. We are moving right along.”
Talkington said he was excited about the improvements.
“(The Agricultural Learning Center) is going to be an awesome space,” Talkington said. “Right now, the farm solely exists for laboratory instruction, so it will be really nice because the farm right now is designed as a production facility.”
Talkington said the Agricultural Learning Center could be a great resource for students and made him proud to be a Northwest student.
“(The Agricultural Learning Center) is going to open up the opportunity for new programs with a dairy lab and a food sciences lab,” Talkington said. “Who knows, they may milk the cow in the morning, and make ice cream with it in the afternoon in a lab.”