New season at OARDC brings signs of hope and progress


WOOSTER, Ohio — There’s still some uncertainty as administrators for the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster assess the total damage done by a major tornado Sept. 16.

Funding sources are still being sought, and the value of some assets like research projects and plants and seeds may not be known for years.

Springing ahead

But officials are certain of the progress being made, and expect to move additional workers back into re-conditioned buildings in the coming months. Currently, about 40 remain displaced, either working in other campus facilities or in buildings that are leased.

“As spring comes, I think people are seeing a sense of renewal,” said Director Steve Slack, who gave an update to a legislative assistant for U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, March 22.

Slack said there are challenges with rebuilding, because some of the building standards have changed, as well as the needs for today’s research facilities. Although many of the buildings were built decades ago, they will need to meet current state standards to be approved, he said.

Some buildings were damaged beyond repair, while others, like the Research Services building, were saved through window, door and roof repairs.

The university is still waiting to see what funding may be available for rebuilding the ag engineering building, which housed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Services lab.

More funding?

Many current projects are happening through insurance reimbursement, but Slack is hopeful the coming months will bring more clarity to other funds that may be in order.

“(We’re) hoping we’re getting to a point where we can at least have an idea of what that settlement is going to be and take that next step,” he said.

Energy company growing

One highlight is the work being done to renovate Pounden Hall, which houses offices for Quasar Energy — a private company that employs researchers and engineers of waste digestion systems that create biogas and electricity.

Renacci’s assistant, Patrick Velliky, was given a brief tour of the building and an update by Jim Currie, program director for ATECH — the university’s agricultural biosciences commercialization unit.

Currie said Quasar, which has partnered with OSU, is a good example of how private sector businesses can work with universities to benefit local and state economies.

The company operates a waste-to-energy digester on the OARDC campus and intends to power about one-third of the electric needs.

Quasar has at least nine other major projects planned this year, and is pursuing a methane digester project to reduce harmful algal blooms, like those found in Grand Lake St. Mary’s.

As the company continues to grow, so do the jobs, and the application of more research.

“What (they’re) doing here, spills out across the state,” Currie said.

Get involved

Click here to learn more about the recovery efforts and the funds to which you can contribute.


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