RANDOLPH COUNTY — After receiving updated illustrations earlier this month, the Randolph County Board of Commissioners approved at its regular May meeting the proposal of schematic design by HH Architecture for an agricultural center.

An overview of programming study and a proposal for design, bidding, and construction administration of the most recent iteration of the Farm, Food, and Family (F3) Education Center project was presented by Kristen Hess, principal architect with HH Architecture. Renderings now feature an event center; cooperative extension, soil and water offices; commercial kitchen; meeting spaces; exhibit hall with concessions; open-air arena for livestock shows and sales; and a proposed maker space.

“[This will be] a place for people to come and actually build and create things in the physical sense,” Hess said. “Then it will allow them to catapult their ideas and hopefully entrepreneurship in the county.

“As you well know, this is an important development for your county, and it’s all about serving agriculture in this county, which is a big economic driver.”

With recent funding from the state and allocation of county funds, Randolph moved forward with the next step to bring a new facility to its residents. HH Architecture was previously selected as the designer for this project, and its completed programming study for the newly reconfigured project follows more than a half-decade of discussion surrounding various similar proposals.

As Hess presented, commissioners were informed of the significance of each element of the design, intended to maximize the impact of its proposed project.

“You will have a presence,” Hess said of the main entrance. “You will have a front door that says ‘This is Randolph County. We are here, and we promote agriculture.’ I think that’s the most important thing, is that you have a sense of pride, you stick a flag in it. ‘This is our land, and we’re doing something cool for the whole county.’ ”

Commissioners also approved a budget amendment which Assistant County Manager Will Massie said just moves money that had already been set aside for the project. Once approved, the construction costs and that of the architecture was allocated to cover the contract as proposed.

Hess stipulated that budgetary elements are still fluid, but projected the project cost to approach $30 million.

“Right now, we’re at $29,564,000,” Hess said. “I know that is a big number, but I think that it is a realistic number. … From a schedule perspective, what we’re talking about is designing through the spring of next year, going out for bid next summer, moving in and being open to the public in the early part of 2025.”

Vice Chairman David Allen expressed his appreciation for the work completed by Hess’ firm and that of state legislators who have been instrumental in procuring additional funding. Allen mentioned outgoing Rep. Pat Hurley, among others, when praising the officials for their efforts.

Hurley will serve the remainder of her term this year after she was defeated in this month’s primary by Brian Biggs.

“I would like to thank the committee that has worked so hard on this,” Allen said. “I know [Rep.] Allen McNeil has been a part of that, we appreciate the funding that he and Pat Hurley, along with Sen. Dave Craven, have provided. We are thankful for that, and the good start that provided us. I feel good about the committee’s work.”

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

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