By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: June 1, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.
NACo recognition marks third honor Ragsdale Center earned since 2018
MCKENNEY – One of Dinwiddie and the Town of McKenney’s newest recreation assets continues to garner attention in the county’s backyard and beyond Dinwiddie’s borders as the Robert and Betty Ragsdale Community Center can now add a national recognition to its list of accolades in its relatively short time in operation.
This month, county officials announced the center, named in honor of community stalwarts Robert and Betty Ragsdale, had been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties, which honors innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services and enhances the quality of life for residents.
NACo brings together the United States’ over 3,000 county governments as they work collectively with localities across America to “advocate with a collective voice on national policy, exchange ideas and build new leadership skills, pursue transformational county solutions, enrich the public’s understanding of county government and exercise exemplary leadership in public service.”
This month, NACo confirmed Dinwiddie indeed was the recipient of one of the organization’s Achievement Awards for the Ragsdale Center, a 20,000 sq. ft. facility housing a branch of the Appomattox Regional Library System, Cooperative Extension/4-H offices, along with Parks & Recreation amenities that opened in 2017 in the heart of McKenney, providing more recreation options for the county, particularly those living in the southern-most reaches of Dinwiddie.
“Counties implement innovative programs that enhance residents’ quality of life every day,” NACo President Greg Cox said. “This year’s Achievement Award-winning programs demonstrate how counties build healthy, safe and vibrant communities across America.”
Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received. Those awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.
The Ragsdale family joins the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors in cutting the ribbon for the new Robert & Betty Ragsdale Community Center in 2017.
The history of Ragsdale Center dates back a number of years following the tragic death of Robert and Betty Ragsdale, their family donated the building that had been the former home of the Aleen Sewing Factory in the town.
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.
Despite the economic downturn that impacted the nation during The Great Recession of 2009 that forced the project to be tabled in lieu of maintaining general county operations, the Robert and Betty Ragsdale Community Center remained at the forefront of the county, with all involved wanted to see the facility reach the day where it would open to serve the community.
“In addition to being a first-class facility, Robert and Betty Ragsdale Community Center represents years of planning and collaboration among County leaders, Ragsdale family members, and the McKenney community,” Dinwiddie County Administrator Kevin Massengill said. “The Ragsdale Center is evidence of what happens when government and communities work as partners, to identify and address needs. We are proud of the facility, which has surpassed expectations to expand recreational opportunities and become the hub of activity in the McKenney area.”
District 4 Supervisor and Board Vice-Chair Daniel Lee echoed the sentiments of Massengill following this month’s announcement.
“I am pleased and honored that the County is being recognized for this project,” he remarked. “The expansion of Parks and Recreation programming to the southern end of the County was a top priority when this Board came together in 2012. The Robert & Betty Ragsdale Community Center has become a hub of activity in McKenney, and will benefit Dinwiddie citizens for generations to come.”
In addition to serving as a central venue for community activities, the building has hosted regional in 2018, the Virginia Association of Counties held their Region 1 and 2 meeting at the Ragsdale Center as over two dozen counties were represented during 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 county parks and recreation director Rayfield Vines guiding visitors through the building.
Months later in September of that year, VACo would honor Dinwiddie and the Ragsdale Center with an Achievement Award, being one of 25 communities to receive an honor from the organization following their successful opening of the center in 2017.
That award would be followed by a third recognition in November of 2018 as the Virginia Recreational and Park Society named the center the year’s best new brick-and-mortar facility for a community with a population between 25,000 and 50,000.
According to the organization, their program honors individuals, departments, and organizations across the Commonwealth who have demonstrated excellence during the previous year. In total, nearly 120 applications were received across over a dozen categories.
Opening in 2017, the Robert and Betty Ragsdale Community Center has not just become a hub of activity for McKenney’s residents but it has garnered local and, now national recognition, earning three awards over the last two years. (Dinwiddie County)
After the county received the honor from the VRPS, Supervisor Lee discussed the impact the center has had on his district and the constituents he serves.
“I, personally, know this to be true because I hear it from citizens almost daily,” he remarked. “Since the facility opened in May 2017, the usage numbers speak for themselves. People from across the County and even surrounding localities are using the facility. They’re taking advantage of the meeting rooms, the fitness center, the lounges, and the library. They’re enjoying the Wi-Fi, fitness and cultural classes that are offered. This facility has met a longstanding need in the southern portion of Dinwiddie County and to be recognized by peer organizations is truly an honor.”
The building has also been a key educational asset through the Appomattox Regional Library System branch inside the building and, earlier this month, dozens of Dinwiddie High School seniors joined county leaders and school division heads as part of the county and Dinwiddie County Public School’s joint Government Day event, the first to be held at the Ragsdale Community Center.
To learn more about the Robert and Betty Ragsdale Community Center and its offerings, visit the county’s website at http://dinwiddieva.us.