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Beck Ag Center 'On-line' at Purdue

New $5 million facility open for business.

Every floor may not be scrubbed for the last time and every piece of moulding may not be in place, but the Beck's Center for Ag Science is up and running. Officially dedicated on Oct. 31, the Center is now the showpiece of the Purdue Agronomy Research Center, located along US Highway 52 west of West Lafayette, Ind.

Jim Beatty, superintendent of ARC, has provided weekly updates since February on the progress of the building. His last update listed the building as 'substantially complete.' In builder's terms, that means 'it isn't 100% finished, but you can go ahead and use it."

The building was designed to serve multiple purposes, including adult instruction and room to play host to various meetings. Indiana Prairie Farmer and Purdue University College of Agriculture have agreed to host the 2008 Master Farmer award ceremonies, co-sponsored by the two organizations, at the Beck Ag Center. Date for the event has not yet been set. Look for details soon. In the meantime, begin preparing those Master Farmer applications. The tentative due date will be postmarked by April 15, 2008.

Sonny Beck and family, Atlanta, owner of Beck's Superior Hybrids, was the primary donor for this new center. Hence it bears the family's name. Other funds were used to complete the total needed to erect the structure. The final cost is estimated at slightly above $5 million.

"This is no pole barn that we put up," Dean of Agriculture Randy Woodson said earlier this year. He expects it to be an asset to both adult and undergraduate education programs occurring in agronomy and crop production.

Purdue's ARC is home to the innovative Purdue Training and Diagnostic Center, which holds classes each summer for farmers and agribusinessmen to update them on the latest in pest problems and controls. Started more than two decades ago, the event utilizes tents for most of its activities. While definite plans have not been announced, it's perceived that some of the activities of the diagnostic training clinic, especially in poor weather, could occur in the Beck Center.

The building is designed with work areas for equipment. It's not a completely carpeted building. Instead, there will be areas set aside for bringing in items form the field for educational purposes.

Dave Petritz, former Director of Purdue University Extension and an Honorary Master Farmer, will coordinate scheduling and help get programs involving the Beck's Center off the ground. Petritz officially retired as director of Extension last summer. His replacement, Chuck Hibberd of Nebraska, began his tenure as Director of the Purdue Extension Service around November 1.

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