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K-State hopes new Haysville building will help it move forward in ag research nationally, dean says

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, April 29, 2013, at 6:55 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, April 29, 2013, at 6:55 p.m.

Kansas State University’s College of Agriculture plans to be in the top five agriculture schools in the country by 2025 – and a new building at its research station in Haysville will help it get there, the dean of the college, John Floros, said Monday at the ribbon-cutting.

The old building at the John C. Pair Horticultural Center, built in the early 1970s at 95th and South Hydraulic, was an inadequate place to house the research and education that the center carries out in turfgrass, ornamental plants and vegetables, and director Jason Griffin had worked to replace it with something new since he was hired 11 years ago.

“Are you going to get a new building out there in my lifetime or not?” Marge Kaegi of Derby, a longtime supporter of and volunteer at the center, said she would ask Griffin. Kaegi was in and out of hospice twice several years ago and is on oxygen. But on Monday, she was at the ribbon-cutting, beaming and feeling healthy. She and her husband, Gial, donated all the furniture in the education room in the new 3,000-square-foot building, which also houses a reception area, offices, a kitchen and a covered patio.

The center tests a wide variety of plants – trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, vegetables and ornamental and turf grasses – and its findings work their way into the agriculture and horticulture industries and to gardeners. For example, studies there have shown that keeping grass, especially fescue, at least 3 feet from the trunk of a tree significantly increases tree growth.

Jim Combs owns 5 acres southwest of Haysville and said that he’s gone to the center for help when he needed advice on putting in a wind break, on blight hitting red cedars and on the vagaries of the weather.

“These folks have always been superhelpful,” Combs said.

The new building cost $400,000, Griffin said. It also houses Kansas Forest Service facilities.

Floros said the new building will extend the impact of the center in south-central Kansas and give K-State a better shot at having its proposals financed, because the center now has “the right tools” to carry out its projects.

Reach Annie Calovich at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com.

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