The Johnson County Extension Service held its annual meeting last week. That's not unusual. They hold it right before Thanksgiving every year. What was different was that after the meeting, they invited everyone down to the end of the fairgrounds from where the meeting was held to inspect their new office. It's the first time in decades, if ever; the Johnson County Extension office has had a home of its own. Educators and patrons alike hope that the office, which has moved at least four times in the past 30 years, is home to stay.
The county built the new building at the edge of the 4-H fairgrounds, largely using Federal Emergency Management money, plus county matching funds. The office has a gravel parking lot, but asphalt will be added next spring.
The building features a meeting room that will seat 120 comfortably, a demonstration kitchen, multiple work rooms, break rooms, offices, and a reception area. It was designed by the current Extension staff.
To get this building, however, the staff and the county had to endure the devastating flood of June 2008, which completely destroyed the existing Extension office and the entire building in which it was housed, along with government agencies. They have been relocated elsewhere.
County Extension Director Linda Souchon was credited with helping hold the system together during the past two plus years without a permanent home. For nearly two years, Extension operated out of an old school building in space donated by the Franklin Community School Corporation. Timing on completing the new building was good, because toe school recently sold the Hopewell site, once and elementary school, to cut down on expenses and raise money for the corporation.
This is not the only Extension office in the state with a new home due to flood-related activities. The Knox County Extension Service, Vincennes, is now housed in a new building built on the Southwest Purdue Ag Center to house the John Deere training program and truck maintenance training program operated by Vincennes University.
In the decision to build new at the farm, with the building built by Vincennes University, space was provided for the Knox County Extension office. In since August, the smell of fresh paint and efficiency pervades that office as well. The district office of Extension for Southwest Indiana is housed in a different location on the farm.
Floods are hard way to get new buildings, all agree, but it's nice to see the effects of that flood finally receding.