CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Bradley County Cannery will have more space to offer to canning enthusiasts next spring, according to the facility's managing agency, the UT Extension Office.
With the recent end to canning season, construction has begun on an expansion to the 35-year-old Peerless Road cannery, said Kim Frady, director of the Bradley County UT Extension Office.
The expansion will increase the cannery's size by half and will be used for a food preparation area, he said.
"The new area will give plenty of room for people who need more space to prepare vegetables for salsa and chow chow," Frady said. "It will also be cooler in the preparation area, since it will be separate from the canning space."
He said the preparation room will have its own entrance and will be connected to the canning area by a wide opening, allowing users to move through the building as they complete canning tasks.
The expansion work has been spurred by increased interest in canning in recent years, Frady said. Several hundred families booked time at the cannery during the 2012 summer season despite a temporary closure after storm damage in July.
Frady and officials with Cherokee Construction, the contractor handling the expansion project, said there is no hard target for completion of the work.
"It will be ready to go by May, when the cannery opens," he said.
Late January is a loose estimate, according to Eddie Parker of Cherokee Construction.
Right now, work is focused on site preparation, which included the recent removal of four pine trees, Frady said. The immediate benefit will be to keep pine needles off the building's roof, but it also will help prevent some storm-related damage, he said.
Parker said plenty of work remains, including building an ADA-compliant entrance for the preparation area, abutting its roof to the existing cannery roof and knocking out a 12-foot section of wall to connect the two structures.
The $52,790 project was funded by a budget surplus with the UT Extension Office because of an unfilled salaried position, according to Frady.
The cannery's makeover ends a year otherwise noted for challenges for the facility and impediments to its client canners. Repeated losses of the building's wiring system -- the first occasion by a storm-blown tree trunk, the next by thieves -- put canning activities on hold until power could be restored during the summer.