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Dairy barn will be used for food bank, community center

Dairy barnBy MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

 

Pulaski County has given a couple the go ahead needed to convert a dairy barn into a food bank and community center.

The 40-foot by 120-foot barn, owned by Ricky and Maria Pruitt, is at 3528 Boone Furnace Road in southwest Pulaski County, near the Wythe County line. The facility will include a food bank for community members who are having difficulty making ends meet and an area for senior citizens to gather and eat.

Ricky Pruitt said a lot of older residents are living off limited incomes that prevent them from having the money or transportation to travel to fast food restaurants for coffee and socializing.

“It will give them a place to sit and have a free cup of coffee and talk about their problems – and maybe resolve a few,” Pruitt told members of Pulaski County Board of Supervisors. Friday night Bingo games will raise funds needed for the center’s utility bills and maintenance, and for community events.

Pruitt said plans call for churches, clubs and other “community-minded people who want to give back” to staff the facility. There will also be an on-site walking track with benches to allow walkers a place to rest as needed.

He told the supervisors “it’s time we step up and take care of our own and stop relying on the government” to do so.

The supervisors unanimously voted to approve a special use permit needed to operate the facility in an Agriculture (A-1) district.

Robinson District Supervisor Charles Bopp, a farmer, said, “It does me good to see an old dairy barn being used” instead of deteriorating from neglect.

Chairman Joe Sheffey of Cloyd District asked county staff whether there would be any grant money available to help the project.

Shaun Utt, the county’s community development director, said he would see if he could find anything.

Utt said the food bank will serve residents in Pulaski, Carroll and Wythe counties.

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