Capital campaign under way for Arcanum’s new ag facility

ARCANUM – After reinstating the vo-ag program and FFA Chapter just two years ago, Arcanum Butler is making plans to add an 18,000 square-foot multi-use facility to the southeast of the existing school building.

The facility will not only be used by the ag program, it also will offer space for weight training for the school’s athletic program and  physical education programs, as well as room for community use.

“It’s an exciting time,” said Superintendent John Stephens. “We went from not having an agriculture program to 91 students enrolled,” he said. “The FFA program coming back was a community-led initiative, with letters from students and parents to board members wanting to bring it back.”

Arcanum’s ag and FFA Chapter programs were disbanded in the early 1990s.

The district surveyed students and other community members and in the fall of 2016, Arcanum Butler’s ag program partnered with and is a satellite program of the Miami Valley Career Technology Center.

“We provide the space and they (CTC) will outfit the lab space,” Stephens said.

In order to pay for the estimated $3 million building project, the district has organized a capital fund raising campaign, with Phil Garbig and Janelle Brinksneader as co-chairs.

Architect Garmann-Miller of Minster also has been retained, Stephens said.

Garbig, who has grandchildren at Arcanum-Butler, sees the project as a plus for the entire Arcanum community.

“Obviously we live in an ag community,” Garbig said, noting how both town kids and farm kids, as well as the entire community will benefit from the new facility.
Pointing out the need for a dedicated vo-ag space, Garbig said “we’ve had some of the kids doing projects out in the parking lot.”

Instructor for the ag program is Brian Pohlman, who came to Arcanum after teaching for 10 years at Tri-Village.

“We did some facility tours of other schools Garmann-Miller” worked with, Pohlman explained, to “see what will work here in Arcanum.”

The new facility will provide needed space for ag curriculum that includes shop courses, such as welding, Pohlman said.

“I think it’s one of those things that really presents kids with more opportunities and gives them a picture about lifelong opportunities,” he said of the ag program’s extended course offerings. “How does a kid really know what they want to go into. That’s going to be a big benefit, having a shop space.”

Pohlman also is excited about how some of the students he has in class now will “see it in use,” he said of the new space, which Stephens said is planned to be open in 2020.

The public is invited to find out more about the capital campaign, see a three-D image of the proposed facility and learn about pledge opportunities on Saturday, March 10, when the fund-raising committee will host a dinner at 6:30 p.m. in the high school gym.

“We’re planning the dinner for adults only,” Brinksneader said. “It is an opportunity for friends of the school and community to hear about the project in more detail.”

Arcanum FFA Chapter students will be on hand to share some of their accomplishments, since the program has been reinstated, Brinksneader explained.

There is no cost to attend the dinner, but information on pledge opportunities will be presented.

“After they have a chance to see the presentation, they will want to donate,” she said, noting pledges will begin at $50 and go up from there.

As a mom of Arcanum students, Brinksneader said she’s “excited to have my kids be part of” the district’s new ag and FFA opportunities.

“There’s a lot of momentum and excitement around it.”

The dinner will include marinated pork chops and chicken from Winners Meats and fruit pies from Brumbaugh’s, Brinksneader said – in support of the local farming business community.

PHOTO CAPTION: Arcanum ag students complete small wood projects outside to cover the mechanics portion of the curriculum.  Aboce, Taryn Dohme prepares to make a cut with the miter saw while Sidney McAllister, Carver Gostomsky, Cameron Warner, Matthew Morgan and Clay Hoop wait their turn.   

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