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FFA Center dedicates cabin to Tommy Irvin

Staff Photo: Crystal Tatum. Commissioner of Agriculture and Georgia Development Authority Chairman Tommy Irvin cuts the ribbon on a new cabin named in his honor at the FFA-FCCLA Center on Wednesday. Jessica Pope, president of the Georgia FCCLA Association, left, and Russell Hinton, vice chairman of the Georgia Development Authority, look on.

Staff Photo: Crystal Tatum. Commissioner of Agriculture and Georgia Development Authority Chairman Tommy Irvin cuts the ribbon on a new cabin named in his honor at the FFA-FCCLA Center on Wednesday. Jessica Pope, president of the Georgia FCCLA Association, left, and Russell Hinton, vice chairman of the Georgia Development Authority, look on.

COVINGTON -- Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin, Georgia's longest serving statewide official, was the guest of honor at the dedication of a cabin named in his honor at the Georgia FFA-FCCLA Center on Wednesday.

Construction on the Georgia Development Authority Tommy Irvin Cabin was completed this week. At 4,500 square feet, not including the porch area, the cabin will sleep up to 64 students.

It was funded in part through a $250,000 donation by the Georgia Development Authority, of which Irvin is chairman.

"You don't know how proud this makes me," Irvin said as he thanked the crowd of about 100 gathered at the FFA-FCCLA Center.

Irvin said the GDA started with very little money but now has $52 million in assets.

"We need to find ways to spend some of those resources for the youth of our state. This has been a major project for us. I think we can be very proud of the fact that we've dedicated this building," he said.

Irvin has served as commissioner of Agriculture for 41 years and will be retiring at the end of the year. He has long been a supporter of FFA-FCCLA, maintaining an open door policy for youth leaders of the organizations. Thousands of FFA and FCCLA members have visited with Irvin in his office in Atlanta.

Irvin has attended local, state and national FFA and FCCLA meetings, is the recipient of the Honorary American FFA degree and serves as a member of the Georgia FFA Foundation Sponsor's Board.

The new cabin will ensure that Irvin will continue to affect future generations of students, said Jessica Pope, president of the Georgia FCCLA Association.

"The Georgia Development Authority Tommy Irvin Cabin will give more opportunities to young men and women to experience personal growth ... and learn leadership skills, team building and communication," she said.

FFA-FCCLA Center Director Todd Teasley said the cabin, in addition to the Melvin H. Johnson cabin dedicated last year, will replace some of the older facilities on site that need to be demolished.

"This is a great day for our center. It's a day I've been waiting for for a long time. It's a day that will help our camp for many years to come," he said.

Teasley said the cabin was built to last a minimum of 50 years.

"I'd like to say it was built to be 'boyproof,' but I was told you can't build anything boyproof," he said.

FFA-FCCLA staff helped work on the building, saving about $50,000 in construction costs, Teasley said.

Teasley extended a special thank you to the Georgia Development Authority.

"They put their money where their mouth is. They believe in serving our youth," he said.