WOOSTER, Ohio — The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center continued its tornado recovery process in a strong way May 10 by breaking ground on a new Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering building.
The 40,000-plus square foot facility will replace the one destroyed by a tornado Sept. 16, 2010. It is expected to be finished in 18-20 months and will house more than 50 employees. All current employees of the facility have been forced to relocate.
The ag research building was one of the hardest hit during the tornado. It also housed several U.S. Department of Agriculture research staff.
OARDC Director Steve Slack said the remains of the building became a daily eyesore. Every time he and the rest of the staff showed up to work, they saw a badly damaged building being held up by wooden braces.
The building was recently demolished by a local contractor, Bogner Construction Co.
“I got tired of looking of that building,” Slack said. “Part of the healing process was actually just to see that building come down.”
And now that it’s down, faculty and staff are eager to see another one in its place.
Bruce McPheron, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, reminded the crowd of the importance of ag research to OSU and beyond.
“Agriculture is a very interdisciplinary set of science,” he said, adding that the research that will take place in the new building is administered by two colleges — both the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences, as well as the College of Engineering.
“The faculty and staff who work in this department, who will populate this building, are a constant reminder of the interconnectedness of all we do at the Ohio State University,” he said.
OSU Vice Provost Mike Boehm drew attention to the fact no human nor animal life was lost during the tornado — only buildings and plant life. Buildings can be replaced, and that’s what is happening.
“I’m really excited that we will see the building open and programming open and back in that building roughly four years to the date that the tornado hit,” he said. “This is a core investment in our people. This building is being built to support our strategy.”
A mix of local, county, state and federal political leaders were represented at the event.
“What nature has determined in her own manner, we rebuild. The fall shall come to spring,” said Thomas Queen, a representative for U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio.
Queen said the research done at OARDC is some of the finest in the nation, and that it will be a big part of life in the 21st Century.
Ohio Rep. Ron Amstutz, R-Wooster, echoed words spoken by McPheron about the interdisciplinary nature of ag research.
“The really big steps and breakthroughs come because of those connections between different disciplines when they work together and I can’t think of a better connector than the ag engineering program,” Amstutz said.
First-term State Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Copley, said the research done in the new building will be a big part of meeting world nutrition needs and keeping agriculture strong.
He said the new building will be “something all of Ohio and really all of the world should be proud of.”
U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also sent staff to the groundbreaking.