By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: November 20, 2018 | 1:45 p.m.
MCKENNEY – One of the county’s newest recreational facilities continues to garner attention from across the Commonwealth as the Robert and Betty Ragsdale Community Center in McKenney received another award following a successful year of operations.
In a statement, the Virginia Recreational and Park Society announced that the center and the Dinwiddie County Parks, Recreation and Tourism was recognized as the group’s 2018 Best New Facility Brick-and-Mortar for a community with a population between 25,001 and 50,000.
The county and building received the accolade during the organization’s 63rd annual conference late last month held at the Hilton Richmond in the Glen Allen community. The conference is a learning exchange and provides an opportunity for recreation and park professionals to discuss areas of common interest.
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.
This would be the center’s second award this year following recognition from the Virginia Association of Counties where Dinwiddie County received a 2018 Achievement Award for the center.
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.
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.
“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. We are honored that the results of this partnership have been recognized by the Virginia Association of Counties and most recently the Virginia Recreation and Parks Society; and hope that this project will serve as a model for other localities seeking to expand services in their communities.”
Those views were echoed by Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors Chairman Dr. Mark Moore.
“This project has had a significant impact on the quality of life for citizens of McKenney and the County as a whole,” he remarked. “Our Vision includes making Dinwiddie County a ‘community in which to spend a lifetime’, and I believe this project aligns with that. The Robert and Betty Ragsdale Community Center offers something for citizens of all ages, from toddlers to seniors and everyone in-between. As a Board of Supervisors, it is our job to do our best to respond to the needs of our citizens; I feel as though this was accomplished through the Ragsdale Community Center. Thanks to the dream of Robert and Betty Ragsdale, the generosity of their family and the hard work of County leaders and staff, this project was a success.
“It is an honor to receive the attention and recognition of prominent organizations such as the Virginia Association of Counties and the Virginia Recreation and Parks Society,” the chairman continued.
When asked, District Supervisor Daniel Lee said these high-profile recognitions speak to the success this project has had locally.
“Receiving recognition from organizations such as the Virginia Association of Counties and the Virginia Recreation & Parks Society validates what we’ve known to be true; the Robert and Betty Ragsdale Center project was a success,” he remarked. “I, personally, know this to be true because I hear it from citizens almost daily. 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.”