`Raise the Roof' fundraiser banquet set for Jan. 14. for New Center Under Construction for MU Extension in Monroe County

January 06, 2023

PARIS, Mo. - University of Missouri Extension officials recently came to Monroe County to recognize county commissioners and others for their part in funding a new county extension center.

MU Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement Marshall Stewart commended county commissioners Mike Minor, Mike Whelan and Marilyn O'Bannon for contacting MU Extension officials about the availability of funds. The building will serve as a hub for MU Extension to "Serve Missouri and Deliver Mizzou" by providing research-based education and resources to county residents, Stewart said.

The Monroe County Commission awarded the county extension council $50,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The stimulus bill monies help state and local governments with public health and economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The extension council in Monroe County is the only one in the state to receive ARPA funding. Stewart thanked the county officials for their efforts to help the council realize longstanding efforts to build a new office.

For more than a decade, the council tried to raise funds to build instead of rent. When the Monroe County Commission received ARPA funds, members approached the county extension council with an offer to pay for the basement portion of a new building if it had a publicly accessible storm shelter and heating and cooling center.

"In addition to providing a permanent home for MU Extension in Monroe County, this building will offer the community a safe place that is accessible to all," said Mike Whelan, longtime Eastern District commissioner for Monroe County.

Whelan credited extension council representative Alec Fodge with pushing the project forward to make a dream a reality. Fodge, an MU graduate and Monroe County beef producer, is head of the extension council's building committee. "This building will help to ensure the longevity and outreach for the University of Missouri in Monroe County," Fodge said. "Faculty and staff with specialties in nutrition, livestock, agriculture, horticulture, small business development and 4-H provide programs and guidance with long-reaching, positive impact to the members of our community."

The ARPA funds will cover the costs of a walkout basement for the 24-by-60-foot metal-sided building. The county council raised a third of the building funds through donations and grants. Estimated cost is about $200,000, with completion expected in May.

The site, at 229 N. Washington St. in Paris, sits close to the county courthouse, city post office, senior citizens center, health department and community action center, said Michael Krauch, MU Extension northeast regional director. The location will give county residents better access to the many services offered by MU Extension and provide a safe shelter for the county's residents during extreme weather, he said.

Contractor Jordan Davis of Monroe City poured the basement. Jake Strayhorn of Shelbina is general contractor for building's main level. Crigler's Heating and Cooling of Paris will perform heating and cooling work. Bob Mitchell of Mitchell Electric of Paris is providing wiring services.

A "Raise the Roof" fundraiser banquet is set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at the Madison Community Center, 115 S. Main St., Madison. Interim Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement Chad Higgins will be the guest speaker. Tickets are available from the current Monroe County MU Extension Center at 208 N. Main St., Paris.

The Monroe County University of Missouri Extension Council is chaired by Shelby DeOrnellis. Other elected council members include Shirley Ensor, Bill Coleman and Sarah Secrease. Appointed members are Ethan McNeill, agriculture representative; Wendy Beard, business and community representative; Margaret Wilkerson, treasurer and human environment representative; Bob Mitchell, 4-H youth development representative; Tracy Huffman, secretary and City of Paris representative; Kim Mitchell, secretary and MFA representative; and Alec Fodge, Farm Bureau representative.



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