Trumbull County farm agencies finally under one, new roof

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CORTLAND, Ohio – As a young extension agent starting out in Trumbull County in 1931, C.D. (Dan) McGrew occupied a cubicle in the Trumbull County Courthouse.

Last week, 72 years later, McGrew surveyed the new home of Ohio State University Extension in Cortland and declared, “This is a rare privilege.”

Dedication ceremony. McGrew, who left Trumbull County in 1946, ultimately retired from extension work in 1971, most notably as state dairy specialist in Ohio for 25 years.

Now 98, McGrew traveled from out of state to attend the April 11 dedication of the new Trumbull County Agriculture and Family Education Center in Cortland.

Joining in the celebration was a standing-room-only crowd of stakeholders – elected officials, state agency representatives, farmers and landowners, master gardeners, sportsmen and community residents.

Joint effort. The center, located at 520 W. Main St., houses more than just the extension offices. It is the new home of the county’s USDA Farm Service Agency, Soil and Water Conservation District, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and regional Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ soil scientists.

A committed group of volunteers and agency staff members were the driving force behind the new center, first rallying their own peers to the idea, then county commissioners and other key officials.

Cortland Mayor Melissa Long was instrumental in connecting with Delphi Automotive and soliciting their donation of the 17-acre site.

“When we understood the educational effort of this center, we were more than happy to do this,” said Delphi spokesman Ann Cornell. “This place is going to draw a lot of attention.”

Long time coming. Some will say the effort started four years ago, but one person observed last week, “It really started 35 years ago!”

The building committee, chaired by retired extension assistant state director John Parker, has been pushing hard for the center for the past three years.

The result of their work, on display at the open house, is a facility that houses the related agricultural agencies under one roof.

“Done at last, done at last! Thank God it’s done at last,” quipped Trumbull County Commissioner James Tsagaris at the dedication.

17-acre campus. The master plan for the rest of the 17-acre campus includes walking trails, gardens and other natural resources educational outdoor venues, said committee vice chairman Richard Houk.

“They will unfold in the years to come,” Houk said.

The building cost an estimated $1.2 million, with the construction funded with public dollars and many of the furnishings, particularly in the common room or small auditorium, coming from private donations, said John Parker, building committee chair.

Reminding the celebrants of the facility’s educational nature, the extension veteran McGrew urged the agencies housed there not to forget the importance of “street corner contact.”

“It is my hope that this center will become a beehive of activity for many years to come,” said McGrew,” and not a temple or monument that people admire and just pass by.”

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