New Alleghany Highlands Agricultural Center Breaks Ground
Monterey, VA – On a recent Saturday afternoon, a crowd of people came together on a stretch of flat land adjacent to Strait Creek between Jack Mountain and Monterey Mountain, to celebrate the groundbreaking for the Alleghany Highlands Agricultural Center. The USDA certified meat processing facility will be built in Highland County on a 6 acre site about 6 miles north of Monterey.
In a county where the cattle and sheep far outnumber the people this facility is expected to give livestock producers the opportunity to convert their livestock into high quality meat that can be marketed in both Virginia and West Virginia. The Agricultural Center Board was able to attract over 90 investors from a four county area to raise the one million dollars needed to construct phase one of this project. Board Chairman Lloyd Bird of Mill Gap addresses the group to start the celebration.
“This is a big day for all of us” says Bird, “and when I saw all of us, I mean all of us and the folks who aren’t here that were a part of this from the very beginning. This has been a journey of faith for the last seven years. There was a small group that got together; Mad Maggie Farms sorta planted the seed. Under the umbrella of the Highland Center, we got a grant; the grant turned into a feasibility study, the study turned into a recommendation to proceed that a four county area, Highland, Bath, Pendleton and Pocahontas could support a meat processing center that we’re building very soon.”
He goes on to thank some of the folks on the steering committee, the board and the Highland Center who made it all possible.
“It’s been seven years that the folks that came together initially on the advisory panel; huge help to the project” he says. “Rodney Leech, Dave Seymour, Ed Walters, Jim Sponaugle, Margaret and Jim Morse, Betty Mitchell. Through the initial funding for this project we were able to bring [Highland Farmers Market Master] Scott Smith on board. Later John Donelson, Robin Vance, [and] Jim and Celia Rutt.”
Many community groups and businesses worked hard to keep this project moving forward.
“The phone company provided a conduit for some funding through the USDA to the tune of about $480,000.00” says Bird.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Highland Telephone Cooperative, we’re pleased to have played a small role in this project” says board Chairman David Blanchard. “I know a lot of hard work has gone into this; congratulations for reaching this point.”
In addition to Board Chairman Lloyd Bird, board members Jon Donelson, Scott Moyers, Allen Irvin and Steve Rogers put in many hours working on the project and getting it ready to go out for bid. Once construction begins, the contractor,G & H Contracting of Salem, Virginia will have 180 days to finish the building.
The Alleghany Highlands Agricultural Center is expected to employ several people and is likely to spin off other businesses such as a retail outlet for the local meat.