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Newton County Agricultural Center celebrates new facility
FFA Strickland equine center
The Georgia FFA-FCCLA Center hosted a ribbon cutting for its new equine center On Wednesday. Named after Senator Robert Brian Strickland, the R. Brian Strickland Equine Facility will be utilized as a place for FFA members to “exhibit their lifestyle” and show their livestock. - photo by Special Photo
FFA Strickland equine center
- photo by Special Photo

NEWTON COUNTY – On Wednesday, the Newton County Agricultural Center hosted a ribbon cutting for its new equine center named after Senator Robert Brian Strickland. The R. Brian Strickland Equine Facility will be utilized as a place for FFA members to “exhibit their lifestyle” and show their livestock.

Georgia’s Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper extended his thanks to Strickland while echoing the importance of agriculture and the opportunities it provides to the community’s youth.

“Agriculture is vital. It’s important. If it wasn’t for agriculture, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Harper said. “It’s that opportunity we give young men and women all across the state every single day. The investments we’re making here this afternoon, this ribbon that we’re cutting this afternoon, is only going to flourish in the new opportunities for young men and women that are going to come through those gates just like I did as a young boy wearing that blue and gold jacket a few years ago.”

The idea for the equine center arose in 2018 with a need for a facility where Newton County FFA members could show their livestock. However, the vision was made a reality through funding and support from several people, organizations and notably, legislative support from Strickland.

Strickland, who serves in District 17 of the Senate representing Walton, Newton, Henry, and Morgan counties, comes from a rural background. Working as an attorney for his day job, Strickland has not strayed away from the importance of agriculture and farming.

R. Brian Strickland
Senator R. Brian Strickland - photo by Special Photo
“I’m very honored to be part of the investment we made in this facility. But, I can’t stand here with a straight face and take all the credit for this newest addition, or for the support we continue to see at the state level from the camp,” Strickland said. “As you guys all know this, the success of the center is a direct result of years of investment that so many of y’all made and young people out there. I can truly say one of the easiest jobs that I have as a state senator is supporting this facility, supporting the camp. Everyone knows what a great thing you all have going here in Newton County.”

In attendance was Senator Strickland and his family, Commissioner Stan Edwards, Rep. Beth Camp, Sheriff Ezell Brown, representatives from the Georgia Department of Education, members of the Newton County Agricultural Committee, state FFA and FCCLA staff, county FFA members, Snapping Shoals EMC representatives and more.

SteelCo Buildings presented the event, with CEO Jay Bailey present to speak on the honor for the company to be one of the several contributors to help with the site.

Prior to the ribbon cutting, Harper closed the ceremony, expressing his gratitude and sharing a sly, lighthearted joke with his friend.

“Brian, I’ll finish with this. You said you grew up on a farm, so growing up on a farm, you know a lot of what happens on the farm,” Harper said. “[With] you being a lawyer and being a politician, I can’t think of a better place to name after a lawyer and a politician than a horse farm that’s going to be filled with manure very soon.”

Despite not being used for the event, McCracken hopes the R. Brian Strickland Equine Facility will receive community exposure from the Newton County Rodeo. The county’s inaugural rodeo will be held at the FFA Center from Sept. 22 -23.

For the future of the facility, Director of Camps Nelson McCracken strives for further use, expansion and opportunity.

“We would like to see some things like RV spaces,” McCracken said. “I can see that, people that especially pull horse trailers, they have the campers stalls in those too. A lot of people like to be able to hook up, be able to unload the horses in stalls to sleep and hook up to a facility that could be a place they spend the night.”