Construction underway on $20M Vermont ag lab

RANDOLPH CENTER, Vt. (WCAX) A ground breaking several years in the making took place Monday at Vermont Tech in Randolph Center. The new Vermont agriculture and
environmental lab will replace facilities destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene.

When it comes to ground breakings, Governor Phil Scott does not mess around. But this project began long before his administration.

"We see commissioners from the previous administration who worked very diligently on this. The governor did as well. We are just trying to fill in the gaps and fulfill our promises," Gov. Scott said.

Tropical Storm Irene flooded the state office complex in Waterbury in 2011, destroying laboratories for both the Agriculture Agency and Agency of Natural Resources. This construction site on the campus of the Vermont Technical College will eventually be home to the new labs. Those labs will be used to monitor health and safety issues throughout the state -- everything from water quality, to dairy and maple, to entomology.

"These folks will go out, they will collect ticks, they will come back to this lab and they will determine whether those ticks are carrying Lyme Disease, which is so so important to our health," said Vt. Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts.

And while some critics raised concerns during the permitting process that a lab was being built of pristine farm land, VTC President Patricia Moulton says it's a perfect fit, offering students a wide variety of hands-on internships. "It's a great opportunity to get connected with the work that these agencies do because it is so germane," she said.

The 36-thousand square-foot facility is a $20 million project. It is the last major reconstruction project following Irene.