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Home Special Sections Progress Other projects - Visitor center a popular draw at wildlife refuge
Other projects - Visitor center a popular draw at wildlife refuge
Written by Larry Limpf   
Thursday, 11 February 2010 16:30

An increase in the number of people making their way to the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge is generally credited to the opening in May, 2007 of a new visitor center.

“In 2009, 23,241 visitors came to the visitor center.  Overall visitation to the refuge went from 137,738 in 2006 to 176,000 in 2009,” said Rebecca Hinkle, Visitor Services Manager. “We give much of the credit to the increased visibility provided by the visitor center.  Another wonderful benefit is the number of field trips.  While the goal of a field trip to the refuge is always to get outside, the building has allowed us to provide more services to the schools.  Visitors to the center enjoy the exhibits, the model hunt lodge is always attractive to the adults and the kids love the interactive muskrat lodge exhibits. “

The center, which cost approximately $3.6 million, covers about 12,000 square feet and features a common area, bookstore, multi-purpose room, a theater, and elevated observation deck.

Recycled materials are prominent in the construction of the three-level facility, which was designed by SEH, Inc., a Minneapolis, Minn. architectural firm.

The floor of the common area is made of a composite of a linseed oil-based linoleum and ground cork. Recycled materials have also been used in the carpeting, ceramic tile, and decking.

The building is heated by a geothermal system.

“There is a lake out in front of the building and that’s to serve the geothermal heating system,” Doug Brewer, Refuge Manager, said when the center opened.  “There are coils that run from the building into the bottom of the lake.”

The refuge staff has also converted an old ditch into a wetland area near thell-refuge1a building.

Displays and “hands-on” exhibits offer visitors an opportunity to learn about various wildlife at the refuge, Hinkle said. There is also a history of the Great Black Swamp.

The center sits closer to State Route 2 than the old office building, which is closer to Lake Erie.


Transit board facility on track
The Ottawa County Transit Board has hired Bodner & Kerik Architects to design a new vehicle storage facility that is receiving federal stimulus funding.

Bill Lowe, director of the Ottawa County Transportation Agency, said contract bids for the 28,500-square-foot facility could be opened by July, 2010.

He said design plans will cost $350,000 and construction will be $3.5 million.

In addition, the transit board is receiving $75,000 in stimulus funding for scheduling/dispatching software; $510,000 for five 35-foot buses, and $158,059 for vehicle maintenance.

The storage facility will be constructed at the OCTA parking lot off N. Toussaint South Road near Oak Harbor and will incorporate energy-efficient systems in its construction, Mr. Lowe said, including wind turbine and solar power, and geothermal underfloor heating.

“We are creating a sustainable, energy-efficient facility that will operate with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification,” he said. “We want to have a facility that is less expensive to operate than it currently is and eats up as little as possible of our operating revenue.”

The facility design will also include a rain water reclamation system.

The agency maintains a fleet of about 30 vehicles.

“The contract for the new buses has been awarded and we anticipate receiving them in the next few months,” Mr. Lowe said.  “We are in the process reviewing proposals for the scheduling/dispatching software and expect to award the contract by the end of February.”


Brush plant nearly complete
Construction of a new facility to produce beryllium metal products at the Brush Wellman plant in Elmore is expected to be complete by the second quarter of the year.

More than 100 contractors are currently working on site during a typical day, said Shelly Lizyness, Human Resources Director, at the plant.

She said the company expects to complete start-up and any certification requirements by the second half of 2010 and have it operating by early 2011.

Currently, 15 Brush employees are assigned to the project and another 18 are scheduled to be on board in the second quarter prior to the start-up.

The company broke ground for the $90.4 million facility in the summer of 2008. It is a partnership between Brush and the Department of Defense.

The beryllium will be used in optical devices for military aircraft, missile-defense units, and satellite equipment.

The company, after a lengthy study, chose the Elmore site over its plant in Utah for the project.

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By: Larry Limpf

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