UW Hires Design Firm for Sheridan Ag Facility

July 19, 2012

The University of Wyoming’s efforts to strengthen its presence in northern Wyoming will receive a significant boost as a result of action taken by the UW Board of Trustees Thursday.

During a special meeting in Gillette, trustees authorized a contract with Malone Belton Abel, P.C., of Sheridan to design renovations to the Watt Agricultural Building on the Sheridan College campus and construct some associated outbuildings to house UW’s agricultural and outreach programs in that part of the state.

Earlier this year, UW acquired the Watt Agricultural Building from Sheridan College using a $5.3 million appropriation from the 2012 Wyoming State Legislature to purchase, renovate and expand the facility. The project will strengthen UW’s partnership with Sheridan College, enhance and consolidate UW’s program in agriculture and horticulture, and provide a unified site for outreach instruction for UW students in Sheridan.

The facility will bring together, in one location, UW’s programs of the Outreach School, Agricultural Experiment Station, UW Extension, Student Services and Manufacturing Works in Sheridan. The existing Watt Agricultural Building -- containing 17,203 square feet -- is not big enough to accommodate those programs, so some outbuildings will be necessary.

Plans call for the $2 million remodeling and expansion to be completed by the fall of 2013.

Plans to improve UW’s horticulture education offerings in Sheridan have driven the need for new facilities. After the 2011 Legislature appropriated $350,000 to UW for a facility planning study, Sheridan College officials offered to sell the Watt Agricultural Building -- resulting in the $5.3 million appropriation from the 2012 Legislature. The Watt Building is adjacent to Sheridan College’s agriculture facilities, so the location will promote collaboration between UW and the college on agriculture and horticulture research and education programs.

Another factor in the project is an offer from Whitney Benefits, a nonprofit foundation in Sheridan, to lease the adjacent Adams Ranch, at little or no cost, to Sheridan College, which would then sublease it to UW to support the enhanced educational program. UW plans to integrate the Adams Ranch into its Sheridan Research & Extension Center and curriculum for third-year agricultural students.

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