Work on horse stalls starts soon

Plans for the construction of a barn and 100 stalls at the Southeast Agricultural Events Center in Lumberton are discussed Friday. Kent Yelverton, with the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said that two more state permits are needed before site work can begin at the center located off U.S. 74 just outside of Lumberton.

LUMBERTON — Although not ready to commit to a completion date, local and state officials agree that site work for a barn and 100 horse stalls to be constructed adjacent to the Southeastern North Carolina Agricultural Center’s pavilion will be under way in about 30 days.

The starting date depends on the issuance of two state permits, according to Kent Yelverton, director of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Property and Construction Division.

Yelverton said Friday that both permits will be applied for this week and should be approved within 30 days.

Local and state officials, as well as members of the Borderbelt Horseman’s Association, gathered last week at the agricultural center to finalize design and site plans for the barn and stalls that supporters says are necessary to draw the larger, multi-day horse shows to Robeson County. The barn and stalls will be constructed on about 2.5 acres adjacent to the center’s pavilion, the multi-events center that opened three years ago off U.S. 74 just outside of Lumberton.

The group has met often over the past several months to come up with a design plan that is economical and meets the approval of all partners involved in the project, said state Rep. Charles Graham, a Democrat from Lumberton. Graham believes that most project partners are now satisfied with the design plan, and agree to where the barn and stalls should be placed.

“This is becoming reality. It is a great opportunity for Robeson County,” Graham said. “This has been a total effort by everyone involved. When we started this, we didn’t have anything to rely on but hope.”

The state has not allocated any money for construction of the stalls, so all money for the $590,000 project was raised locally. The Robeson County Board of Commissioners has contributed $117,000 toward the stalls, with the City of Lumberton having allocated up to $30,000 for materials used in site work, as well as providing no limit on labor and equipment for the site work. The state Horse Council and the state Horse Council Foundation have raised more than $400,000 through $400,000.

Rob Armstrong, Lumberton’s Public Works director, said it will take three to four months to prepare the site for construction. The site work includes grading, storm drainage, and installation of water and sewer.

“At first, we thought it would only take about two months. But that was when we were looking at only having to work on less than an acre,” Armstrong said. “Now we are talking about 2.5 acres, which means about a 50 percent more volume of dirt that has to be moved.”

To move the project quickly, the group decided to begin Phase II of the project, which leads to the actual vertical construction of the barn and stalls, as the site work begins. An updated cost analysis for the construction will be conducted and design plans finalized. Bids will go out shortly after for the steel modular structure that will include stalls built-back-to back.

Yelverton estimates that once on site, the modular building can be constructed in about 30 days. He made no commitment on how long it will be before the barn and stalls are completed.

“It takes more time getting the building here than putting it up,” he said.

Yelverton said that money to cover vertical construction expenses is still “a little short,” but added he anticipates donations will increase when people see that work has begun.