New Carroll arena opening next month

The Carroll County Agriculture Center's new arena will open late next month when it is host of the weeklong 4-H/FAA Fair, ending a $4.3 million construction project that was hampered by inclement weather and delayed by changes in work orders.

A use-and-occupancy permit was issued in late April, but minor detail work, including spot painting and installing small parts, and cleanup of the 52,500- square-foot arena in Westminster need to be completed, said Lawrence E. Meeks, president of the center's board.


"Those issues have to be addressed before we move in," Meeks said. "We were hopeful we could have been in the building before this."

The building on Smith Avenue occupies about 1.5 acres next to Burns Hall, part of the agriculture center's complex. The arena includes air-conditioned offices, kitchens, bathrooms and showers, and it is outfitted with areas for holding livestock.


During the 4-H Fair, which runs from July 31 to Aug. 6, the arena will house and exhibit hundreds of animals, including sheep, goats, cattle and swine. Vendors, entertainment and other activities will be stationed throughout the agriculture center, fair organizers said.

"We're very excited," said Lynn Talbert, chairwoman of the 4-H event. "It's a state-of-the-art complex."

Construction, which started in fall 2002, was scheduled to be completed in time for the 4-H Fair last summer.

But harsh winter weather in 2002 held up construction, forcing fair organizers last year to raise nine tents for hundreds of animals that club members show at the event.

A soggy spring and more snow and freezing rain this winter added to the delay, officials said. Builders also had to contend with about 40 changes in work orders, including tweaking the design and engineering to be more cost-effective.

A dispute also erupted between the project's general contractor and a subcontractor over payments - an issue that MSG Associates, the general contractor from Wind Gap, Pa., says did not contribute to the construction delay.

For five years, agriculture center officials planned and raised money for the Danele Shipley Memorial Arena, named in honor of a late Carroll County teacher known for her dedication to 4-H.

The project cost $5.5 million, which included site preparation, architect fees and construction. The money came from state, county and private funds.