“Things have changed for Eastern North Carolina, and they’ve changed for the better,” Basnight said during June 30 ceremonies at the new center, on 242 acres near Columbia.
The center in Tyrrell County now has a dining facility with a kitchen and four dining areas, a conference center with a 250-seat meeting room and administrative wing, two hotel-style executive lodges with a total of 20 rooms, two dormitory-style group cabins that sleep 22 each and summer staff housing available to graduate students and interns involved in research and community development projects.
Eventually it will include two more lodges, each with 10 hotel-style rooms, says Greg Hall, center director.
Hall says the center’s goal is to provide year-round training and educational programs for youth, community, business and corporate groups and university students and faculty.
“To call this center a ‘camp’ is not doing it justice. You can come out, get dirty and go to a hotel-style room to clean up and sleep. We call it ‘roughing it smoothly,’ ” says Hall.
Also completed, thanks to private donations, are the Finley Gazebo, the centerpiece of a waterfront boardwalk; the CP&L Wetlab, which includes a 30-student-capacity marine biology classroom with a model tidal pool basin, microscopes and other scientific equipment; the Southern Bank Foundation Boardroom; the Victoria Jean Cope Music Center, a multi-purpose classroom; and lodging rooms named for distinguished citizens.
The Dalton and Ruby Proctor Clover Courtyard and the State Council Clover Walkway also are under way, thanks to the donations of 4-H clubs and many 4-H alumni and friends, says Sharon Runion Rowland, director of development for the 4-H Development Fund.
A few of the recreation programs include softball, volleyball, basketball, kayaking, sailing and a ropes course. The swimming pool and the Pepsi-Cola Pool House have been completed, Hall says.
Basnight was joined at the dedication before the A.E. Finley Gazebo by a crowd of 300, including a host of state and local dignitaries and N.C. State University officials.
J.D. Brickhouse, Tyrrell County administrator, said, “We believe this center will be an economic boost to Tyrrell and the eastern end of Washington County.
“This 4-H facility will really be an industry for us,” he said. “This is very important for jobs and for what they’ll do for the community.”
N.C. State Chancellor Marye Anne Fox noted the year-round center’s emphasis on environmental stewardship and youth and community development.
Joining the chancellor were N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, state Rep. Gene Rogers, former state Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Graham and Dr. Dudley Flood of the UNC board of governors. Also in attendance were College Dean James Oblinger; Dr. Jon Ort, associate dean and Cooperative Extension Service director; and Dr. Johnny Wynne, associate dean and Agricultural Research Service director.
The center, surrounded by forest and fields on three sides and the bay on the fourth, is being built with $8.5 million in state-appropriated funds and more than $1.5 million in donations from individuals and organizations. More funds are needed to complete the current phase of the multi-phase project, says Dr. Mike Davis, state 4-H leader.
But enthusiasm for the project is running so high that after learning another cabin was needed so more children could attend camp each week, N.C. philanthropist Walter Davis of Kitty Hawk donated $120,000.
That should be a sound investment: The center is expected to produce a $2 million annual economic impact, says Davis.
“We’re very pleased that we can customize and personalize every experience for those who choose the Eastern 4-H Center,” says Sara Phelps, guest and community relations coordinator. “Even though some groups come to achieve their own programming goals, recreational programming activities are always available.”
The center’s Web site is http://www.nc4h.org/eastern-center/.
For reservation information, contact Phelps at 100 N. Clover Way, Columbia, N.C. 27925. Call 252.797.4800, ext. 222, or fax 252.797.4888.