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Portal Middle High to open new Ag Building Thursday
Ceremony 6:30 p.m. before annual FFA Livestock Show
Ag Building PMHS
Portal Middle High School will dedicate its new Bill Brown Agricultural Building, pictured, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. (Photo illustration courtesy Bulloch County Schools)

Portal Middle High School will dedicate its new Bill Brown Agricultural Building at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, immediately before its inaugural event, the annual Portal FFA Livestock Show, starts at 7 p.m.

The building, costing $647,777 to construct, was paid for with revenue from the current Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or ESPLOST. Designed by James W. Buckley & Associates of Swainsboro and built by Pope Construction of Statesboro, the new 10,151-square-foot buidling replaces two former vocational agriculture facilities, the original Portal agriculture building and the previous Bill Brown Livestock Barn.

Bill Brown
Bill Brown

This new facility resembles one already in use at Southeast Bulloch High School. After school administrators proposed an agriculture building for Portal, two different countywide community committees appointed by the Bulloch County Board of Education listed it as a top-20 priority for E-SPLOST.

"Agriculture is a vital and integral part of the Portal community," Dr. Tom Marshall, Portal Middle High's agricultural education teacher, said at the March 8 groundbreaking ceremony. "Moving forward, we are excited about the opportunities this new facility will afford. While livestock showing will be its primary function, there are unlimited and creative possibilities for the engagement of student learning and community involvement."

The new Bill Brown Agricultural Building stands on the former site of Portal's first agricultural building, which was removed to build the new one. Built in 1947, the original building included an agriculture classroom and shop and was in used until 2010, when the new Portal Middle High School was built.

Also removed, but to be preserved at an off-campus location, the previous Bill Brown Livestock Barn was constructed in 1986 by Portal's former Ag Teacher, Dr. Sam Bowen, his agricultural students and members of the community.

Both that previous building and the new one memorialize Bill Brown, an agriculture teacher at Portal Middle High School 19 years and in Appling County for two years. Brown also coached basketball for 18 years and started a Boy Scout chapter in Portal.

He became the first advisor for the Bulloch County Young Farmer Chapter, a chapter that grew into Georgia's largest chapter, and continued as its advisor for 18 years. Brown, who passed away in 1992, is an inductee of the Georgia Agricultural Educators Hall of Fame, which is sponsored by alumni of the Georgia Chapter of the National FFA Organization.

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