Thanks to an expansion and renovation of the University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Service Office in Whitley County, local officials are hoping to offer additional services. It also means that local residents have access to a commercial kitchen that is available for public use.
Garrard Coffey, agriculture and natural resources extension agent, said the addition is pretty badly needed. A year ago, some employees were in the main building while others were in a doublewide trailer behind the main building.
“The extension service, if you went back 10 years, it was three extension agents and a secretary,” Coffey noted. “At this point we are up to 10 employees and we are actually looking probably within the next year of adding two or three more employees to work out here. The biggest way that we can reach people and make a difference in our community is to have people working. The more people we have working the more people we can get to, and the more hands we have to talk to people and do our programs that is what the extension service is all about.”
Extension office officials celebrated the expansion Thursday with open house and a free dinner, including steaks cooked by the Whitley County Cattleman’s Association.
Hundreds of local residents enjoyed the free food and toured the facility.
“In our old building, we only had one meeting room. So a lot of times we would have two agents needing a meeting room at the same time so we expanded that,” Coffey said. “We also put in a commercial kitchen here in the back where people can bottle, can, whatever they need to do to cook their products and they can sell those at the farmer’s markets and stuff.”
Coffey said people just need to call and scheduled an appointment to use the kitchen.
Coffey said that the project began on Nov. 1, 2015, and involved completely renovating the existing building and adding an addition that was roughly the size of the original building.
“We are about 10,000-square-feet and have all kinds of meeting space and office space. We are all under one roof now,” Coffey said.
In 2008, the extension service moved to the building, which was formerly Jones and Son Funeral Home.