4-H center renovations slowly moving forward

A long-term renovation project to upgrade facilities at the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center in Front Royal has been a slow-moving effort so far.

Ann Marlow, chairwoman for the James Swart Animal Renovation Committee, said the project is a massive undertaking and that the committee is “doing it in stages.”

Joan Moore, a member of the board of directors as well as the committee, said, “We seem to be stuck in early phases, but it all revolves around funds.”

The committee, Marlow said, is essentially leading the renovation efforts for the center in what is being called the “Dreams Need Heroes Campaign.”

The whole campaign has been estimated to cost as much as $5 million, with the actual renovation costs estimated at $2 million.

The Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center serves 18 counties in Virginia, including Shenandoah, Warren and Frederick.

At the moment, Marlow said the facility holds most of its events during the summer.

“We’ve got horse classes and horse camps and some other groups using the facility, but we want to do more,” Marlow said.

Both Moore and Marlow indicated that the renovation committee will look to reach out to other state horse breeders groups as well as the Wounded Warrior Project in order to enhance the facility’s uses.

Moore said the project’s next phase includes a $385,600 total upgrade of the stables.

For the immediate future, Moore said the committee will be focused on “making the stalls more habitable.”

Simply upgrading the stall doors will cost the center an estimated $48,400. Moore said the committee has raised between $80,000 and $90,000 since 2004.

The “Dreams Need Heroes” campaign has goals of enhancing the facility for the purposes of holding more events year-round as well as more use as an equestrian facility, Marlow said.

“We need to make the place available, acceptable and attractive enough to have horsemen come in,” Moore said.

In exchange for funding, Moore said the committee is offering donors the opportunity to have site buildings branded in their name.

However, one issue in tackling the renovation efforts, Moore said, is that the committee only has around five or six members. So far, Moore said that the center has been able to upgrade in a few areas since the campaign began. One major upgrade was the addition of frost-proof fire hydrants in 2013.

“The Welsh Pony Association has a show here twice a year and they used to have hoses all over the place,” Moore said.

Still, Moore and the rest of the Animal Renovation Committee are looking to reach more residents in the area and around the state to receive funding.

“We have lists of people that have never even heard of this place,” Moore said, adding that contacting potential donors is “an ongoing process.”

Due to full-time jobs and prior obligations, Moore said it is “very difficult to follow-up on all of the suggested people that we need to meet.”

In addition, Moore said they are working on getting more volunteers for the facility.

“We need them desperately. It could be menial jobs … whether licking envelopes, I don’t care,” she said, “We need interested people, who are not on payroll and who just want to be part of this.”

Moore said that they hope to complete the stall upgrades this spring and will be looking to work with King Construction out of Charlottesville.

In addition, Marlow said that the committee will “purchase a PA system and some judge’s stands” for the stable area.

“The idea is that we want to renovate this facility to make it more usable for people,” Marlow said.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com