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High Plains Ag Lab building progresses

Construction is progressing on a new office and laboratory building at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln High Plains Agricultural Laboratory near Sidney.

The building should be complete sometime this spring, and plans are being made to hold a dedication ceremony during the spring crops field day at HPAL in late June, according to Gary Hergert, interim director of the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center.

Tom Nightingale, farm manager at HPAL, said the building exterior is mostly complete except for a brick wainscoating to be applied later in the spring, along with sidewalk and a parking area.

On the interior, partitions are up, drywall has been hung, and most of the electrical and plumbing work is complete. Yet to be installed are the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, windows and doors, Nightingale said. The general contractor is Chief Industries.

Ground was broken in August 2013 for the 2,800-square-foot building, which will provide office space, a laboratory, and an improved area for processing samples of grain and forage. A local building project committee and the University of Nebraska Foundation conducted a campaign that raised about $500,000 for the building. It replaces a 1940s-era structure that was part of the Sioux Army Ordnance Depot when the U.S. government gave the property to the university in 1970. The existing building will continue to be used in some capacity for storage or lab space.

Individuals, foundations, and agricultural businesses have stepped up to support the project. Chairman of the HPAL Building Project Committee is Keith Rexroth of Sidney, who farms in the area and whose father was one of a local development group instrumental in getting the ag lab started.

HPAL is a satellite unit of the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center. One-third of its 2,400 acres are used for dryland crop research and two-thirds is in pasture. The facility’s mission is unique to the High Plains, a high-elevation, semi-arid crop region.

Date: 3/17/2014

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