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MSU dedicates $1.2 million 4-H complex in West Point
WEST POINT -- Representatives of the 4-H Foundation of Mississippi touted a 63-acre multipurpose youth complex as a great example of community partnerships during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in West Point Thursday (April 10).
Under cloudless skies, Mississippi State University Extension Service personnel were joined by 4-H youth and volunteer leaders, state and local government officials, industry representatives and 4-H Foundation of Mississippi board members for the dedication of the Jimmy Bryan 4-H Youth Complex. The complex houses a nature trail, a 4-H shooting range, the Southern Ionics 4-H Environmental Center, the Mississippi Farm Bureau 4-H ATV Training Center and the Elizabeth A. Howard 4-H Therapeutic Riding and Activity Center. It is located behind the Mossy Oak Mall off of Old Starkville Road.
“This complex is one of the best examples of community collaboration, and it all started with Jimmy and Kay Bryan donating the property,” said Gary Jackson, director of the MSU Extension Service. “Many people had to come together to make this possible, including the state legislature and local government officials.”
Jackson described the Bryans as “visionary” for pushing for a complex that will benefit young people from across the state, but especially those in the Clay County area.
Floyd McKee, president of the Clay County Board of Supervisors, said the complex will be an important community asset.
“All the activities featured are things our youth are interested in. It’s great to have a facility like this right here in Clay County,” McKee said.
Jimmy Bryan said donating the land in 2001 was the easy part.
“This facility will give kids an opportunity for outdoor activities,” Bryan said.
Hobson Waits, chairman of the 4-H Foundation of Mississippi, said the complex mainly started taking shape when the Tommy and Brenda Howard family of Columbus contributed to the construction of the therapeutic riding center.
“Construction started at the complex in 2009, and the city and county helped in building a new entrance to the property from the west side,” Waits said. “If not for the cooperation of the city and county, we would not be here today. They have been good partners.”
Morris Houston, development officer for the 4-H Foundation, said the city also provided water and sewer service to the property.
“We relied extensively on the support of the Clay County supervisors and West Point officials to develop this complex,” Houston said.
Other agencies involved in the project included the Mississippi Land Bank; the Mississippi Land, Water and Timber Resources Board; Farm Bureau partners; and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
For use of the property, contact the Clay County Extension Service at 662-494-5371.
The Elizabeth A. Howard 4-H Therapeutic Riding and Activity Center hosts therapeutic riding classes for a variety of participants throughout the week.
The Mississippi Farm Bureau 4-H ATV Training Center provides an outdoor classroom for the lecture portion of the ATV Rider Course. The center also includes a training pad for ATV lessons and a mile-long trail through a 14-acre wooded area leased from the city.
The 4-H shooting range is still in the developmental stage but is now used for archery, air rifle and air pistol target shooting.
The Southern Ionics 4-H Environmental Center provides a covered outdoor pavilion for programs on conservation and the environment.
A nesting and bedding area for wildlife covers several acres on the property. A one-mile nature trail, which is the same trail used for ATV activities, enables visitors to see amphibians, birds, squirrels and evidence of other small mammals and deer. The trail passes upland oaks, pines, Savannah grass and bottomland hardwood in the 14-acre plot.