Jeremy's Notebook

Looking Out for 4-H

January 4, 2013

Prior to approving the design contract for a planned 4-H center last night, the Escambia County Commission dug deep into the organization’s concerns pertaining to costs and the possibility of securing land for agricultural purposes.

“I come to you tonight because I have 15-month-old twin daughters and I want them to have what I had,” 4-H supporter Jacob Gilmore told the commission.

Last year, 4-H agreed to sell its 240 acre Langly-Bell property to Navy Federal Credit Union for $3.6 million so that the neighboring business could expand its campus. As part of the deal, Escambia County agreed to use $1.5 million in Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) money to construct a new Stefani Road 4-H center on county-owned land.

The 4-H organization sent $2 million from the sale up the chain to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.  Members of the 4-H community are now concerned that the remaining $1.6 million—held back, with an eye on purchasing land to be used for livestock purposes—will be dipped into if the Stefani Road center runs over budget.

“I’m going to be highly upset if this money goes to this building on Stefani Road, or goes to Gainesville,” said Commissioner Wilson Robertson, who also sits on the 4-H Foundation.

Robertson, as well as Commissioner Steven Barry, had expressed the same concerns during an earlier work session. Interim County Administrator George Touart assured the commissioners that the Stefani Road project would be relying solely on the LOST funds.

“If they come back one dollar over $1.5 million, there is no project,” Touart reiterated last night.

After questioning Pam Allen, the head of Escambia’s 4-H extension office, and requesting that IFAS provide the county with its vision for the future of the organization locally, the commission went ahead and awarded a $170,000 architectural and engineering contract to Hernandez Calhoun Design International for the approximately 10,000-square foot Stefani Road building.

“At some point in time we have to believe they’re going to keep it within that budget and hold them accountable if they don’t,” Barry said.

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  • Boo hoo January 7, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Quit your belly aching Jeeperman – Escambia 4H is the wealthiest 4H chapter in the state if not the entire US. They just put another $2illipn in their endowment and have another $1.6 million set aside for purchase of property OVER AND ABOVE THE $1.5 MILLION THE COUNTY IS PONYING UP FOR THE NEW BUILDING. What in the heck is the problem here? The future of Escambia 4H has been secured for generations to come and you still want to complain? Get over it.

  • EPenn January 5, 2013 at 6:39 am

    And Robertson still has a bunch of Gibb’s asphalt on Nine Mile Road (Just around the corner) that needs a home… ie, don’t cut the parking lot! (built by Roads, Inc… Gibb’s employer…ex? hard to keep… Of course its going to be built…(the parking lot!)… Robertson, got a stormwater permit for that asphalt (parking lot) yet? Guess you got around the fencing requirement by flattening it out… ha ha

  • jeeperman January 4, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    There is no way Touart can keep that claim after the contract to build has been let.
    If they give the build contract to the likes of Roads, Inc. there will be a never ending stream of “change orders” and bid modifications to cover the cost of things the contractor “missed” in his quote.
    Wait and see who is awarded the build contract.
    Especially with Touart as Administrator.

  • EPenn January 4, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    “If they come back one dollar over $1.5 million, there is no project,” Touart reiterated last night.

    So, he is saying if its not within the budget the 4-Her will have nothing?

    Also, look out for the never ending downsizing of the project until there’s nothing but a parking lot (built by Roads,Inc.) and a port-a-potty…

  • jeeperman January 4, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Like I posted on the other 4H article……….
    How much of this new 4H building is going to be occupied by the Extension Service and off limits to 4H activities?
    Or is Pam Allen going to continue to strangle the 4H activities as they did to the Langley-Bell property?