The 4-H Center on Jekyll Island will be upgraded, get a new name and owner, but will remain open to children in the youth organization.

The $12 million upgrade will bring the 1950s-era facilities at 550 South Beachview Drive into the 21st century fold of new or revitalized facilities on Jekyll Island.

It also will bring it into the fold of the Jekyll Island Authority, which will assume responsibility for the beachfront facility, which has been operated as a youth center since 1983. The center accommodates about 13,000 youth annually.

While the authority is assuming responsibility for the center from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, the Georgia 4-H Club will continue to have programs there.

The facility now will be called the Jekyll Island Children and Youth Center.

Upgrades to the facility will include construction of a new education building, replacement of dormitories, a new auditorium, other new buildings and grounds improvements.

Gov. Nathan Deal recommended funding for the project following a visit to Jekyll Island within the past two months. The funding was included in the state's fiscal 2014 budget, which begins July 1.

"We thought that while we're making all of the improvements on the whole island, we should touch (the center) as well," said authority board chairman Richard Royal.

A new oceanfront park, convention center and two hotels have either been constructed or are in the final stages before construction is scheduled to begin this year.

Deal expressed excitement in a prepared statement about the island's overall progress.

"This new undertaking at Jekyll Island adds still another very exciting attraction for children and youth that will pay huge dividends both in environmental education and enjoying outdoor activity at Georgia's premier barrier island," Deal said.

* Reporter Nikki Wiley writes about government, business and other local topics. Contact her at nwiley@thebrunswick, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 321.

Click here to read the Jekyll Island Authoritiy's press release about the 4-H Center

Jekyll 4-H Center will leave '50s behind
The Brunswick News