Four decades ago, Christian County's 4-H Horse Club had nowhere to practice, but even lacking a facility, its members performed well in the state of Kentucky.
"Forty years ago, I would have cried," observed an emotional Wayne Hunt, as he recalled how Christian County was the lead county for the horse club at that time.
Hunt noted that the local club didn't ever really get a place to practice, but all that's changing now with current plans to create an ag facility in the community.
Hunt, president of H&R Agri-Power and a member of the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board, was on hand Friday morning for a groundbreaking of what will be a multi-purpose ag facility behind the Christian County Extension Service.
"You'll never know how much this facility is going to be used," Hunt told the group of dignitaries and others gathered for ceremonies ushering in the facility.
The state ag development board and the Governor's Office of Ag Policy is contributing $250,000 toward the $1.85 million ag facility project, while additional funding includes $100,000 from Farm Credit Mid-America and $500,000 from the Christian County Ag Extension Foundation.
Another $1 million is being made available through H-CC WINS and an agreement between Christian County and the City of Hopkinsville.
The county had earlier entered into a memorandum of understanding with the city, agreeing to pay the city $2 million to help finance construction of what is now the Planters Bank-Jennie Stuart Sportsplex. Also under that agreement, the county would continue to fully fund the city's parks and recreation superintendent position and its marketing and events coordinator position.
In return, the city was to pay the county $1 million for the financing of the construction of an agriculture-related facility, and it is those funds that are being used for the ag facility now set to begin construction off Pembroke Road.
"(We wanted to) make sure (Hopkinsville Mayor) Carter (Hendricks) didn't take the money back," quipped Brandon Garnett, the regional vice president for southwest Kentucky for Farm Credit Mid-America, as he recalled the availability of those funds and the decision to use the money for the new ag facility.
Garnett noted that the community's 4-H and Future Farmers of America programs are the strongest they've ever been, and he said the new facility is about Christian County's youth, offering them a place to practice and host events.
"We hope to be using (this facility) in another eight months or less," he said.
County Manager Jay Stone said the new ag facility will be a metal building with a dirt floor that will make a lot of events like the livestock shows possible.
There will also be an area that will include a meeting room, restrooms and space to utilize for serving and for kitchen/concessions needs, the county manager said.
Stone joined other local officials in noting that the fruition of the project is being made possible through a partnership involving a variety of donors and resources.
"We did not have to burden the taxpayers with it," said Stone, explaining that prior conversations about an ag facility stopped every time because of the costs.
Stone said the groundbreaking brought with it perfect weather for such an event and a "perfect crowd" of people who represented a mix of all the programs served by the extension service, from homemaking to production ag and 4-H.
Robert Alexander, chairman of the ag extension foundation, called the new ag facility "a dream come true for our community," and he noted that the facility is an investment, not only for the community, but for its young people.
"The foundation board believes in this," said Alexander, observing that community partners have been working on the project for a long time.
Christian County Judge-Executive Steve Tribble said he's been approached about the need for an ag facility all during his tenure as judge-executive, but he noted that it has taken everyone working together to bring such a facility to fruition.
"I'm glad we're all working together on this," said Tribble, who pointed to an earlier feasibility study conducted by the Christian County Fiscal Court that revealed a price tag that would have been too costly for that project.
Instead the county entered into its agreement with the city, and plans began for establishing the current facility on the grounds of the extension service.
Hendricks noted that the project is coming to fruition because of partnership and potential, the partnership of all those involved in bringing it about and the potential that will be realized for residents of the local community, he said.
"This will help people and the community reach their fullest potential," he said.
Also speaking on Friday was Renee Carrico, project manager of the ag policy office, who noted that, as a development board, her agency sees a lotof projects.
"It's good when a project comes in and is ready to go," she said. "You have community support and financial support, and (your project is) ready to go."
Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.