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Ag barn complete
Ag barn.jpg
After years of work, the ag barn structure at Warren County High School is complete. Some work remains to build stalls, which should take about two to three weeks once work begins.

After several design changes, a misunderstanding as to whom was the lowest bidder for the project, and three years of planning, this phase of the agriculture barn at the Warren County High School has concluded.

“The ag barn is finally complete,” said Director of Schools Grant Swallows at the August meeting of The School Board.

“Yes!” said board member Helen Martin enthusiastically.

“Oh, yeah,” added board member Bill Zechman happily.

The structure as it stands now is a 64-foot by 60-foot pavilion with a poured concrete floor. Stalls for animals and walls are to be constructed by school maintenance soon.

“It’s amazing how supportive the community and the School Board have been,” said WCHS agriculture education and FFA advisor Danielle Smith. “This project started when Bobby Cox was director and he was great to work with. Then Grant Swallows took over and he’s been great to work with, too.”

Smith added, “We have so many kids that experience different species in our community that we want to have every species of large animal in the barn so kids learn to artificially inseminate and learn to give shots to all these different animals.”

Originally, the barn was estimated to cost $100,000 but the actual bids came back ranging from $144,000 to $289,000, so it was back to the drawing board.

In July 2019, Allen Hill of Upland Design Group submitted a plan with a price tag of $100,576. This plan included siding and roofing but eliminated the overhangs in the original design and substituted a gravel floor for the concrete slab. It also excluded interior buildout and interior stalls that were included in the original bid.

Smith pointed out hooved animals don’t do well on gravel and recommended the bid be rejected. Smith recommended the job be opened up for a rebid and the School Board concurred.

In August 2019, Hill presented a smaller agriculture barn design to the School Board. This plan called for a 32-foot by 60-foot structure with 12-foot overhangs with 10-foot column spacing. This structure would be unenclosed and any lighting or plumbing would be done by school maintenance. There would be no heating since the structure would have no walls.

The School Board considered it and voted to authorize for bids, but later decided to revise the size of the structure to 40-foot by 60-foot with 12-foot side extensions and concrete floors. The 12-foot overhangs bring the dimensions of the building to 64 by 60.

In February 2020 a $68,000 bid was accepted during a specially called School Board meeting. In a motion unanimously approved by the School Board, Hill recommended Summertown Metals as the low bid for a 40-foot by-60-foot building with 12-foot side extensions and concrete floors.

In March 2020, it was discovered there was a bid misunderstanding of $1,390 and the low bidder was actually Grissom Underground, not Summertown Metals.

Grissom Underground was awarded the job.

Danielle Smith is pleased to see this phase complete and is eager to put the barn to use. 

“We’ll have at least four 12-foot by 12-foot stalls,” said Smith. “The stalls will be adjustable so we can make them larger if we need to.”

Smith plans to use the barn for many activities including the FFA Farmers Market since the barn won’t house animals in the summer.

“Usually in the summer the kids will have their own farmers market where they can sell the fruit and vegetables they’ve grown,” said Smith. “Sometimes they’ll bring in eggs from chickens they raise, jams and jellies they’ve made, and baked goods, too. This is a really great space we’re going to put to good use.”

Maintenance director of Warren County schools David Northcutt expects to get the go-ahead to start building the barn walls and stalls and running the electric any day now. Northcutt estimates the project should be complete within two to three weeks of starting the job.