— By JUDY SHERIDAN
Gearing up to replace three barns dating back to 1949, the Parker County Livestock Improvement Association, launched a “County Challenge” fundraising campaign Wednesday with a donation from Durant Auto Group, a longtime supporter.
Jerry Durant presented a $150,000 check — a donation which must be matched — to children and youth involved in FFA and 4-H – during an event at Jerry’s Chevrolet in Weatherford. The organizations use the PCLIA barns during the annual week-long Parker County Livestock Show.
“We have until May 1 to [raise the same amount],” said Annette Sledge, a member of the PCLIA fundraising committee. “Durant Auto Group wants this building done.”
Sledge said the PCLIA has several fundraising ideas for the campaign, including a four-wheeler raffle, sponsor signs inside and outside the new building and engraved bricks for the entry walkway.
Mat Galliton, PCLIA president, said he’s not sure how much the new facility will cost. The association hopes to construct a 92,000-square-foot building with two show rings, offices and updated meeting rooms.
Plans also call for a 100-by-100-foot air-conditioned section to host the summer livestock sales that take place after the June Stock Show. The sales raise between $450,000 and $475,000 annually for the kids eligible to participate, Galliton said, with big contributions from car dealerships and banks.
Texas 4-H livestock ambassadors Keeley Sears and MaKayla Lewis said the air-conditioned part is key.
“The buyers don’t like the heat,” Sears said. “So this would mean more buyers, and we could sell our animals for more money and make more profit.”
Lewis said having one large facility would allow the kids to keep all their animals in the same place, making it easier to care for them.
The push to construct a new building may have been triggered by Weatherford College’s offer to lease the PCLIA 6 acres of land near the intersection of Hwy 180 and the Ric Williamson Memorial Highway, Galliton said, a deal that awaits a legality ruling from the attorney general and terms of the lease.
If all goes well, he said, the new facility will be erected at the new location. If not, it would probably be sited on the Sheriff’s Posse grounds, where the old barns are located.
“Our job is to convince everyone that the kids need a new place,” Galliton said, “and keep educating them about agriculture for another 50 years into the future.”
Donations may be mailed to PCLIA, P.O. Box 1744, Weatherford, TX 76086.
The organization is also looking into setting up a Paypal account on its website, parkercountystockshow.com.