By JUDY SHERIDAN
Weatherford College President Dr. Kevin Eaton doesn’t fault Parker County for the loss of the college’s rodeo practice arena, once sited off U.S. Highway 180 West.
It stood directly in the path of the Ric Williamson Memorial Highway, on a 10-acre swath of land that the county purchased from the college for the highway’s right-of-way and had to be removed.
“We were more than happy to cooperate,” Eaton said, acknowledging the price of progress. “The Loop benefits us all.”
Still, the loss has left the rodeo team without a place to practice and others without a place to participate in livestock judging or other classes.
Eaton and head rodeo coach Johnny Emmons were in Commissioner’s Court Monday to talk about a remedy. The college would like to sublet 24 acres of county land south of I-20 on Tin Top Road from the AgriLife Extension Service’s 4-H program, which already leases the land from the county.
The acreage, which supports the 4-H Youth Center’s barn, indoor arena, outdoor arena, equipment and meeting rooms, abuts 14 acres of land owned by the college to the east, Eaton said.
He said Weatherford College would also like to amend the lease to incorporate 5 more acres of county land to the south where the soil would more easily support two practice arenas.
The college would also like to have gravel road access to their land from Tin Top Road.
In the college’s proposal, both entities would share the 4-H Youth Center and acreage, but the college would have priority access, Eaton said.
“A positive for the 4-H program is that they would no longer pay utilities, yet they would have access to the facility,” Eaton said. “The college would pick up the expenses.”
Eaton said the college would also repair the arena, clean up the barn and get the restrooms working again.