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Oswegatchie Educational Center adds new year-round lodge

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BELFORT — The Oswegatchie Educational Center has added a new lodge, with costs covered primarily by grant funding and donations.

“It will serve as a second year-round facility for groups to rent,” Director Todd M. Lighthall said of the new Foster Lodge, at the FFA camp on Long Pond Road in the town of Croghan.

The 34-by-60-foot structure will be used for most of the year as a rental facility for groups of up to 24, supplementing the 70-bed Sutliff Lodge, Mr. Lighthall said.

During the summer camping season, the two-story building will serve as the camp infirmary, including a secure area for medications and quarantine rooms, he said. Some programs also may be offered on the upper floor.

The new lodge, the first year-round structure at Oswegatchie that is fully handicapped accessible, will have “a lot of possibilities and functional uses over time,” Mr. Lighthall said.

About $100,000 of the roughly $230,000 project cost was covered through a special grant program through the National FFA called the Living to Serve initiative, he said.

The building is highly energy efficient, using radiant floor heat fueled by wood, Mr. Lighthall said. The center has solar panel arrays in storage that eventually may be used to charge batteries, he said.

The camp has received about $80,000 in donations toward the project, including $50,000 from retired Cornell University professor Daryle Foster and his wife, Sharon. Foster Lodge was named in honor of these donors.

The rest of the money for the project was borrowed through Farm Credit East, with further donations and other funding to be used to pay off the debt.

Oswegatchie officials also used volunteer labor, primarily from agriculture teachers during their stays at camp, to lower building expenses.

“Teachers had a big part,” Mr. Lighthall said.

The project was handled mostly by local contractors and craftsmen, including general construction by William Boliver from TLC Construction, cabinets and doors by Roger Pominville from Indian River and flooring installed by Roggie’s Flooring, Lowville. All the wood came from trees on the property that were processed in the camp’s sawmill, Mr. Lighthall said.

The Oswegatchie Educational Center is owned and operated by the New York State FFA Foundation Inc. Its mission is to provide an opportunity to foster leadership development, environmental education and outdoor recreation.

“We’re open to all kinds of groups and organizations,” Mr. Lighthall said, noting it is often used by church groups and for other gatherings. FFA affiliation is not required.

The camp also has been used in recent years by college groups, with Syracuse University alone coming for seven or eight weekends a year, Mr. Lighthall said.

For more information, call the center at 346-1222 or visit www.oswegatchie.org.

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