Escambia Moves Forward On 4-H Facility; Wants Explanation Of Plans For 4-H Funds

January 4, 2013

The Escambia County Commission voted Thursday night to move forward toward constructing a $1.5 million Escambia County 4-H Center, but commissioners made it clear they want some answers from the University of Florida IFAS on how they plan to use proceeds from the $3.6 million sale of the Langley Bell 4-H Center.

Earlier this year, the children and teens on the 4-H County Council voted to sell their 240 acre Langley Bell 4-H Center to Navy Federal Credit Union. Navy Federal paid $3.6 million for the property next to the credit union’s campus in Beulah. $2 million of the sale proceeds were placed in an endowment fund for 4-H, and $1.6 million was reserved for 4-H to use under the guidance of UF/IFAS for a property including livestock facilities.

The Escambia County Commission also agreed to construct the new 4-H Center on Stefani Road with $1.5 million in local option sales tax funds, which is totally unrelated to the $3.6 million sale proceeds.

Thursday night, the commission approved a $170,000 contract with Hernandez Calhoun Design International for architectural and engineering services for the new 4-H Center. Interim County Administrator George Touart made it clear that if the building came in over budget, the project was dead in the water without cost reductions.

Meanwhile, a 4-H Task Force is currently holding meetings to develop viable options that may be considered to meet the livestock, natural resources, and outdoor education needs of 4-H. The Task Force will present its findings to the UF/IFAS Dean of Extension, who will in turn use the information provided by the task force to make decisions for the 4-H program on how to use $1.6 million from the Navy Federal sale to construct or purchase another facility in addition to Stefani Road.

Jacob Gilmore, a 4-H supporter, unsuccessfully asked the commission to put off their decision for six months or after the UF/IFAS decision is made.

Commissioners said they expect UF/IFAS to spend the $1.6 million on a livestock facility.

“I would like us to one way or another get IFAS to give us their expectation of what they are going to be doing,” Commissioner Grover Robinson said Thursday night. “I think clearly I believe this board by its own actions and everything else fully expects there to be a livestock program in Escambia County, and fully expects things to be moving forward with all the programs IFAS provides. But in a sense we are kind of left out in the cold. We don’t really get to make these decisions, and I think IFAS should be telling us what is going on.”

“We have absolutely no intentions of cutting out any program,” Escambia County Extension Director Pam Allen told commissioners. “In fact, we are going to be adding more programs…Livestock is our grassroots background. We are not eliminating anything. We will find a way to meet every need we have in the 4-H program.”

“We said we want them to get some comparable land so they can feel satisfied,” Commissioner Wilson Robertson, who also serves on the 4-H Foundation board, said. “I think we ought to hear to hear from the 4-H. I think we ought to hear from those young men and women who voted to sell that property. They…need to be lobbying the Foundation and IFAS can’t overrule what the Foundation votes on. That money is ours to stay in this county.”

“I am going to be highly upset if that $1.6 million goes into this building at Stefani Road or goes to Gainesville, I tell you,” Robertson said, “because we promised them (the 4-H youth) otherwise.”

In approving the architectural and design contract Thursday night, the commission stipulated that the Stefani building is  not to exceed $1.5 million from the county, and  IFAS will provide a complete explanation of their plans for Escambia County 4-H.

Pictured top: The Langley Bell 4-H Center was sold to Navy Federal Credit Union for $3.6 million. Pictured below: A new 4-H Center will be constructed adjacent to the Escambia County Extension Office on Stefani Road. photos, click to enlarge.


16 Responses to “Escambia Moves Forward On 4-H Facility; Wants Explanation Of Plans For 4-H Funds”

  1. david lamb on January 5th, 2013 10:49 pm

    First: The county will not be buying any property, the 4H Foundatuion will with proceeds from LBC sale.
    Second: The up keep is not as much as you make it sound and with proper management, the land and buildings can be self supporting paying itrs own way.

  2. southerner on January 5th, 2013 7:51 pm

    I think that the county buying the Bayer property could be a bad, bad, baaaaaaaaaaaaaad thing! Consider how much the continuing cost of upkeep might be.

  3. David Lamb on January 5th, 2013 11:08 am

    429SCJ: When I was in 4H the Extension Offoce was in 201 of old courthouse. Some time after I joined the AF the old court house was vacated for a nwew one and Extension was moved to current location. More goes on in the extension office than just 4H. Residents can call in question about insects/diseases on plants/trees/flowers and general lawn questions. There are books/and material available to the public on these topics.
    I caould speculate on many reasons Pam Allen wants tro stay where she is.I will just say possibly for convenience for her and staff, people dont like change, and she might feel the location is good.
    debugger: Dont get 4H mixed up with FFA, they are two different organizations.
    Jane: Every state has an extension service ran by a major university in that state.4H is mandated under that program.They have the responsibikity for 4H programs.
    We dont need a bus barn/shop, 4H needs land for AG and livestock training.

  4. 429SCJ on January 5th, 2013 7:49 am

    @Russ, I wonder who or what is pre$$uring Ms Allen to the $tefania Road property?

    What are the reward$ and for whom?

  5. Jane on January 5th, 2013 6:15 am

    The 4H kids need to be in the country on a comparable piece of land and use the money they got from the sale to purchase and build what they need. What is this about the county giving them part of the money? Why aren’t they getting the full sale price to buy and build? I think that was the deal originally.

  6. Northender43 on January 5th, 2013 5:46 am

    The Bayer land would be a great idea. But here is another thought. The School District has been talking about relocating Walnut Hill Bus Garage closer south. Why don’t the District and 4-H get together and purchase the land. The bus garage would be able to accomadate more buses and 4-H could have more land than what they would have on Stefani rd.

  7. c.w. on January 5th, 2013 5:14 am

    Can anyone explaine why “Thug U” , university of florida has any say at all in what the 4-H does in northwest florida? It sounds like “someone” is trying to beat the kids out of their money just like they were beat out of the Langly Bell property. Can UF be trusted? NO-NO-NO!

  8. deBugger on January 5th, 2013 1:36 am

    Don’t let this slide.

    Those Future Famers of America deserve better.

    If you can’t feed a nation, you don’t have a nation.

  9. david lamb on January 4th, 2013 9:10 pm

    I would love to hear some opinions of current 4H members as to what they want to see, How much land? What are your thoughts on Bayer? Where should the new land be located?
    What should be done or not done on Stefani Rd?
    We adults are pushing for Bayer, What do the youth want? Let your voice be heard!
    To CC& 7: just keep “sippin” your tonic water and fiz. You are clueless! Million has been set aside by the 4H foundation to purchase land for AG and livestock programs that cannot be done on Stefani Rd. This money cannot be touched to build on Stefani Rd. Commissioners voted 1.5 million of local sales tax revenue for Stefani Rd. That will be spent there or used on some other county project. The rest of the 3.6 million went to the accounts set up for 4H of Escambia county. will be invested and interest income will be used for operating costs annd budgetary expenses to operate Escambia 4H. The 4H foundation will oversee that money.

  10. Russ on January 4th, 2013 6:07 pm

    It still sounds like hogwash. Mrs. Allen is trying to force stefani rd. on these kids. They need more room.

  11. Us on January 4th, 2013 1:24 pm

    I stil think the Bayer property would be the prefect place. Plenty of room, barns already there and no city neighbors to complain about smells, etc.

  12. CC&7 on January 4th, 2013 12:56 pm

    Why should the county pay for ANYTHING? It was a transaction between Navy Federal and 4H. 4H should use the money they got from the sale of the property to buy their new site and build what they need. If I sold my home for a profit I certainly wouldn’t expect someone else to come in and help me pay for a new one.

  13. David Lamb on January 4th, 2013 10:41 am

    THANK YOU, Grover, Wilson, and Steven for the bark you gave to Extension. By bark, I mean I think you put Extension on public notice that certain actions need taken and not stalling, delaying tactics.I still feel that no funds, state, federal or local taxes or even proceeds from LBC sale should be used on Stefani RD until such time as the task force makes recommendations and are acted on. You have voted and as long as you stay firm, I will support your decision.
    I still think that if a good proposal is provided to Nick Place that he will act appropriately. I also feel that what the group Jacob Gilmore is working with has a great proposal.
    IF someone would contact the owners of the Bayer property they might be able to get some of the land donated as a charitable donation with a tax write off for Bayer and then the purchase price for the rest of the land would be not as prohibitive. I would like to know if Bayer received any tax incentives ,years ago to develop the land initially.

  14. bama54 on January 4th, 2013 8:51 am

    IMO, anything land north of Muscogee Rd would be a great idea!! The north end of the county needs something more beside the ECUA Poo Poo Palace!!

  15. Rob D Blind on January 4th, 2013 8:02 am

    I guess they are bound and determine to take country to town. 4H means cows, hogs, chickens and goats. Look at the number of houses in the photo and you can bet, they can hardly wait to have any related smell to farm animals there. My opinion is forget Stefani Rd and find them a nice place in the country. They should get something comparable to what they had. I have not heard much talk lately about the property by Molino Park School. It would be a great area.

  16. charlie w. on January 4th, 2013 5:02 am

    I sure hope the 4-H kids don,t get screwed, again. They had a nice place and were talked into selling it by, WHO? Good ole boy touart is involved thanks to our CC. lol

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