Rabbit museum could draw congressional visit

Eric Stewart, left, executive director, of the American Rabbit Breeders Association, explains to U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson and Lisa Kerle, of state Rep. Donna Oberlander's office, planned changes at the former Countryside Craft store in Wentling Corners.

BEAVER TWP. - If U.S. Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-15) has his way, members of U.S. Congress could be coming to Wentlings Corners.

While touring the American Rabbit Breeders Association's new headquarters and museum in Wentling Corners on Feb. 19, Thompson said he would like to hold a House Agriculture Committee meeting at the museum.

"I like to take any opportunity to show off the district," said Thompson, the ranking Republican on the committee.

Thompson's visit was part of a legislative breakfast meeting and tour of the rabbit museum, the Modern Living Solutions plant in Knox and the COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Clarion.

State Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-21) and Lisa Kerle, representing state Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-63), joined Thompson on the morning tour.

Eric Stewart, the American Rabbit Breeders Association's executive director, said the goal is for the museum to open to in June.

"We hope to get all of the renovations done and hold a dedication in June," he said. "With the weather and contractor availability, it may be hard."

Stewart said rabbits are one of the most "efficient means of protein" and saved thousands of lives during the world wars.

"We have programs for developing countries to help them realize that," Stewart explained.

The association's headquarters relocated from Bloomington, Ill., to Clarion County in 2018 with the intention of establishing the new headquarters in the Knox area.

The American Rabbit Breeders Association Inc. purchased the former Countryside Crafts store in December of 2020. The site is located just off Interstate 80 exit 53 in Beaver Township.

Stewart said the association's library and museum are recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the largest collection of rabbit publications and artifacts in the world.

Stewart said the association has more than 20,000 members worldwide, including 1,000 in Pennsylvania.

Modern Living Solutions tour

"It is difficult to put on a steel roof in 30-mile-an-hour winds," said Mike Shick, the supervisor at the new Modern Living Solutions plant in Knox, told the members of legislative breakfast tour.

The refurbishing of the plant includes replacing a large part of the steel roof; reinforcing sections of the cement floor to support the manufacturing facility and remodeling of another area into a locker-room, break room and conference room.

Shick said he hopes the work is completed by the third quarter of the year.

The 256,000 square-feet plant will manufacture modular bathroom units at the former Knox Glass Bottle Company in Knox.

The units will be used by the parent company, Greystar, worldwide.

Fort Knox LLC purchased the land for $2.5 million on Oct. 27, 2020. The property was purchased from Clarion Industrial Realty.

Knox Glass ceased operations in 1983. The plant was used to manufacture modular home units for several years but has been empty for about seven years.