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Dedication Ceremonies April 27 for Litchfield County Extension Center (Released: 04/25/01)

By Richard Veilleux, Office of University Communications

STORRS, Conn. -- Nearly 50 years ago, a group of Litchfield County farmers invested the then princely sum of $50,000 and bought a building on the Litchfield Green to house the then agricultural extension service that would eventually become home to the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System. Five years ago, the corporation's board of trustees sold the building for $350,000, and reinvested that money.

On Friday, April 27, the sole remaining founding member of the group, former state Rep. Joseph Ruwet, will close the books on the Litchfield Agricultural Center when the board presents a check for $465,000 to University of Connecticut Chancellor John Petersen during dedication ceremonies for UConn's new Litchfield County Extension Center. The spanking new $1.8 million, 7,400-square-foot building -- nearly double the size of the former facility -- will serve the county's farmers, backyard gardeners and consumers for at least another 50 years. The ceremonies begin at 5 p.m. at the new center, located at the University's Torrington Campus, with a ribbon-cutting and reception beginning at 6:15 p.m.

"It's remarkable what these individuals have done. Their vision, tenacity and generosity is an inspiration to us all. They have truly given new purpose to the University's mission of engaging the people of Connecticut in the land-grant University," said Petersen.

The extension center, one of eight the University operates in Connecticut, offers county residents educational programming in family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development, and agricultural and natural resources management. A master gardener program operates from the center, offering advice and support to backyard gardeners.

The building features a 120-seat meeting room that will give UConn the ability to better serve the community, four offices for extension staff, a conference room, space for the volunteer master gardeners, and storage space. It was designed by TLB Architects of Higganum, and constructed through the generosity of the original agricultural society trustees and the UCONN 2000 program, a $1 billion program to renew, rebuild, and enhance the University of Connecticut. Since the bill authorizing UCONN 2000 was signed into law in June 1995, some 20 new buildings have been constructed on UConn's Storrs and regional campuses, and another 20 have been extensively renovated.

Since the original building was sold in 1996, the Litchfield County Extension Center has operated from rented space on Winsted Road. In March, staffers moved back into a building of their own when the new facility was completed, off Route 4 on University Road.

The dedication ceremony will include a silent auction of donated items to help offset the cost of new equipment and furnishings at the center, a brief speaking program, the ribbon-cutting and refreshments. The event is free and open to the public and media. For information or directions, call 860-626-6240.

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