Judge/Executive Stan Humphries said that the United States Department of Agriculture is mulling plans to close the office and its sister agency the Farm Service Bureau to consolidate with other offices in other counties. “They provided us with a grant for sinkhole repair at the Recreation Complex. My feeling is that if they were in another county, there is a possibility we would not have received that grant.”
William Lawrence of Soil conservation said that the building, owned by Dennis Thomas could be purchased for $168,000 and believed the USDA would loan the remainder of the cash at four percent. “It’s not a sure thing, but it is the best we can do to keep the Farm Service Agency and Natural Resource Office open. If not, farmers will have to go to Christian County or maybe Caldwell County. We may be able to apply to the state to pay for it out of the tobacco settlement.”
Magistrate Doug Taylor said, “We realize this is an important service provided by the Federal Government. It is here to answer questions from everyone ranging from lawn maintenance to helping with farms. Securing the building will help keep it here, but is this something that will be paid back?”
“We hoped we wouldn’t have to,” said Lawrence, who added that the building had not yet been appraised, surveyed or obtained an environmental study.
Taylor called for the tabling of further discussion until these items were obtained. The court voted unanimously in favor of his motion.
Lawrence told the court that if either office was closed, the county would have the first option on the building or if the building was sold, the county would recover the $15,000 down payment.
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