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Old 'state farm' barn bites dustTell North Platte what you think
Courtesy Photo­Image
Part of one wall is all that remains, Friday afternoon
Photo by Jay Huff
This barn will be preserved.
Photo by Jay Huff
Another view of the barn that will be renovated.
Photo by Jay Huff
Don Adams, WCREC Director

A 100-year-old barn at the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte joined the past on Thursday-Friday, demolished and hauled away.

The competing newspaper in North Platte mistakenly reported that the big barn near U.S. Highway 30 would be torn down, sparking an immediate effort on facebook to save the barn that will be saved anyway. That effort was abandoned when this report was published. -Editor

The dairy barn that stood near the center of the cluster of buildings on the “state farm” campus was unsafe, and the demolition makes way for a new entomology research building, Facilities Manager Bob Skates said.

Skates said tile bricks walls of the dairy barn were badly cracked and the east wall was coming apart.

However, the most visible barn on the – the big horse barn -- will be restored and preserved. The horse barn stands along U.S. Highway 83. It will get new storm windows, doors and soffits, if funds are approved as expected.

Skates said the two-story horse barn is uniquely built, made in 1919 of poured concrete. As far as he can tell, it's the only barn-style state-owned building that was built of poured concrete.

The new windows, doors and soffit repairs will cost an estimated $90,000. Skates has applied for the money from a state building fund.

The old dairy barn that was demolished Thursday was the first building to go up when the farm was established in 1914. The dairy research program ended in the late-1960s and the barn has been used for storage.

Several projects

Several construction projects will take place at the center this year, including:

• Entomology building - 75-foot by 40-foot - $375,000.

• Main office building - 50-foot by 38-foot expansion.

• New greenhouse - $53,000.

• New/replaced roofs - $250,000.

• New doors & windows on horse barn - $90,000 (funds pending.)

Roofs will be replaced not only on seven buildings at the research center but also on another seven roofs at the Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory -- a working ranch north of Whitman. The total cost for the roofs will be $250,000, Skates said.

A $50,000 greenhouse will stand near wind tunnels that are used to study the effects of applied herbicides and insecticides, said Don Adams, the director of the center.

A 50-foot by 38-foot wing will be added to the main office complex -- the Synder building. That will provide eight new offices for graduate students during internships and research projects, including post-doctoral work, Skates said.

Skates said it’s not unusual for 45 research students to be working at the center at one time.

New entomology building

The new entomology research building will focus on the study of below-ground insects. It will be equipped for plants and root masses, so tests can be conducted on crops that are taken right out of fields in west central Nebraska.

Plants can be brought into the lab. When the roots are cleaned and washed, the soil that washes off can be collected, and all parts measured and inspected in all aspects, Adams said.

“It’s difficult to haul all that (plants and roots) around the state (to other labs),” Adams said. “It needs to be done fairly close to the fields.”

He said the entomology building will accommodate both faculty and research students. It will provide the facilities needed for the center to go after research grants from agri-businesses and the federal government.

Adams said a lot of UNL research is currently focused on how to grow crops with less water. Researchers at the center study such things as irrigation, crops, soil composition and tillage.

When the new entomology building is operating, an insect researcher can join the team with knowledge of how below-ground insects affect efficient water use.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 5/31/2013
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