Commissioners commit $150,000 in hotel tax money for farm center feasibility study

A feasibility study that may result in a future PA Agricultural Discovery Center in Straban Township was approved by the Adams County Board of Commissioners at its meeting yesterday. As part of the hotel tax fund, $150,000 will be used to hire a yet-as-unknown consultant who will determine the suitability of several county sites for the planned center.

The decision to locate the Discovery Center in Adams County resulted after four counties submitted proposals for the opportunity. The Discovery Center team decided Adams offered the most cohesive approach and support for bringing the Center to life.


If approved, the Ag Discovery Center will eventually consist of a multi-building complex that will immerse visitors in a replica farming community. It will feature spaces to learn about crops, dairy cows, poultry, and other livestock and environmental education.

The site’s 3D maps and models will showcase Pennsylvania’s agricultural history and the latest technology used in farming practices today. Exhibits will combine play features and education while tailoring learning to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) concepts for a hands-on experience.

Commissioner Randy Phiel said there could not be a better use for the hotel tax money, combining the county’s rich tourism and agricultural context. “We are pleased to be selected for the PA Ag Discovery Center,” said Phiel. “The Center will complement the county’s diverse agricultural communities and proud farming heritage.”

In thanking the board for their approval of the funding for the feasibility study and business plan, Robin Fitzpatrick, President of the Adams County Economic Alliance, said the quality of the presentation was what won Adams the next step in this journey and explained how the project came about.

“The Dairymen’s Association and the Center for Dairy Excellence approached the board of commissioners about a potential project. Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, and Lancaster counties were invited to submit a proposal regarding a site location.  After a year of site tours and meetings, the PA Ag Discovery Center selected Adams County for its site location.  Feedback was such that they experienced a strong and cohesive team amongst the board of commissioners, county planning and development, travel and tourism, and economic development.  The quality of presentations suggests that long-term coordination and assistance would be dependable and most valuable.”

Other County Business

Oct. 29 has been proclaimed National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in Adams County. This reclamation of expired and unused over-the-counter, prescription, and pet medications occurs twice yearly. It is a joint effort between local law enforcement agencies, Collaborating for Youth Volunteers, and the DEA. Nine locations for free disposal will be available throughout the county. The sites will accept loose pills, pill packs, liquids, and creams but not needles.

Every year, improperly or undisposed drugs may cause misuse, overuse, overdose, and death. For more information, contact or Lisa Linley at 717-338-0300.

The county commissioners were asked to approve purchases of a new controller and card reader on the door to the room where the county’s voting machines are housed. The total cost of both items is approximately $4,000. Another $6,259 was requested for a Quadient IM-210 automatic letter opener that can open 400 envelopes per minute. This price includes an annual maintenance contract. Both were approved as part of a plan to ensure election security.

The Adams County Court Administration, Information Technology, and Commissioners signed a memorandum of understanding that will provide a model for efficient, secure, and cost-effective technology services provided for the courts by the commissioners through the IT department.

Ellen Dayhoff, Rural Resource Manager, sought approval for an offer letter to purchase the conservation easement for a farm in Union and Germany Townships. Ms. Dayhoff explained that the price for small farms has increased within Adams County, and the price offered has been set at $3,000 per acre, slightly less than the asking price. The County Commissioners approved the offer letter for the 42.72-acre farm.

The board approved and signed a certification statement for receipts and expenditures for the 2021-2022 Human Services Development Fund Grant for almost $94,000 for the Homeless Assistance Program (HAP) and $60,000 for the Human Services Development Fund. The HAP program provides needy families with rental subsidies.

Featured Image Caption: The Adams County Board of Commissioners proclaimed October 29 as National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. From left, Commissioner James Martin, Griseydi Castaneda, Center for Youth and Community Development (CFYCD), Commissioner Randy Phiel, Lisa Lindsey CFYCD, Commissioner Marty Qually and Samiah Slusser, Collaborating for Youth. [Judith Cameron Seniura]


Judith Cameron Seniura is a freelance reporter. She began her journalism career in the early ‘70s and has written for newspapers, magazines, and other media in Ontario, Canada, Alaska, Michigan, Nebraska, San Antonio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

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