By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: September 1, 2018 | 12:35 p.m.
DINWIDDIE – The Robert and Betty Ragsdale Community Center has been open for just over a year and has already become a key asset for the county and the community of McKenney, who lacked options for recreation on their end of the county like those found at the Eastside Enhancement Center along U.S. Route 1.
Now that asset has been recognized by the Virginia Association of Counties, earning Dinwiddie County an achievement award from the organization.
The county announced that it was among 25 communities to receive a 2018 VACo Achievement Award, with the county being recognized for their work in developing and eventually opening the Ragsdale Center during the summer of last year.
Following a tremendous loss, the family of the late Robert and Betty Ragsdale generously donated a building that was formerly home to the Aleen Sewing Factory in McKenney. The County conducted a needs assessment, confirming that this was a prime location for the much-needed expansion of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism programming. An architectural rendering was unveiled in April 2015 and demolition/construction began in November of that same year. A grand opening celebration was held on May 2, 2017, and the facility quickly became the hub of activity in the McKenney area.
“I am thankful for the legacy of Robert and Betty Ragsdale. Their love and spirit of giving along with the tireless work and dedication of the Dinwiddie County Board of Supervisors, community, and citizens, has afforded us the opportunity to positively transform this community, by bringing recreation amenities to a previously underserved area of Dinwiddie County,” Ray Vines, the county’s director of parks, recreation and tourism said following the announcement.
Earlier this year, the Ragsdale Center served as the host to VACo’s Region 1 and 2 meeting, which saw leaders from across the Commonwealth make their way to McKenney for an engaging roundtable discussion about priorities and other topics affecting local governments. Prior to that meeting, supervisors and county staff from other communities toured the building with Vines and other county officials showing them the various amenities the building features and explaining the history behind the project. During the meeting, Chairman of the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors Dr. Mark Moore explained the gravity of having so many local leaders visit the county and see what the county is doing.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase Dinwiddie County and, in particular, the Ragsdale Center,” Moore said. “We are here specifically so they can see some positive things happening here in Dinwiddie County and we are bringing about changes in people’s lives.”
That sentiment was shared by fellow supervisor Daniel Lee, who praised the teamwork of county leaders and the community to make the Ragsdale Center a reality.
“The Robert & Betty Ragsdale Community Center is a shining example of what can result from local government working together with communities and citizens. I am so happy to have seen this project grow from a dream to reality,” Lee remarked. “This facility will benefit the citizens of Dinwiddie County, specifically those in the McKenney area, for many years to come. It is an honor to receive a VACo Achievement Award for this project.”
Dinwiddie County is no stranger to VACo Achievement Awards, having won one in 2017 for its innovative “Ready to Hire” program, which sought to address high turnover among the county’s communications officers and create a pool of qualified candidates to fill openings, should they be needed. In addition, Dinwiddie won an award in 2015 for the county’s youth workforce development initiative and in 2012 for the Dinwiddie County Sports Complex.