GREENVILLE — The Darke County Fair Board discussed establishing designated smoking areas at the county fairgrounds during the group’s monthly meeting Wednesday night.
Darke County Recovery Services prevention specialist Kelly Harrison addressed the board, along with several student representatives of We Are The Majority, an after-school leadership program open to high school and middle school students throughout the county. The group encourages young people to live drug, alcohol and tobacco-free lives.
Creating designated smoking areas during the fair would limit fairgoers’ exposure to secondhand smoke, reduce fire hazards caused by discarded cigarette butts and prevent underage patrons from smoking on the fairgrounds, according to Greenville freshman Emmie Myers, who delivered a short presentation to the board. Smoking would only be allowed in certain, highly visible areas where minors are not allowed.
Studies have linked secondhand smoke exposure to more than 41,000 deaths each year, mostly as a result of lung cancer or heart disease, according to Myers. We Are The Majority offered to provide signing for the smoking areas and pursue funding for ashtrays should the board decide to adopt the group’s proposal.
“I think it’s a great idea,” board member Richard Delk said. “But legally, can we do that? Because it’s a public gathering place.”
Board president Dean Neff expressed similar concerns.
“Places like Kings Island are owned by a company or a group of people,” Neff said. “But the fairgrounds are owned by the voters. That’s not saying we can’t go ahead and make the places up, but people might use them or they might go ahead and walk on by.”
Activities organized by We Are The Majority include after-school study sessions for elementary and middle school students, art classes and a variety of other events. The group also recently spearheaded a program to offer discounts on car insurance to students who make a pledge to remain drug and alcohol-free. The driving focus of the program is to promote the fact that, despite the significance of the opioid crisis, the majority of students do not abuse alcohol or drugs. We Are The Majority currently has chapters at Greenville, Arcanum-Butler, Tri-Village, Franklin Monroe and Mississinawa Valley schools, according to Harrison.
Sheep department representatives addressed the board about the need for more space in their barn, saying that most sheep have been unable to stay the length of the fair because of lack of space. Proposed solutions include combining the sheep and goat barns or expanding the sheep barn 20 feet to the south, as well as removing a support post in the middle of the sheep barn’s show ring. Board members suggested consulting a structural engineer before going ahead with the latter option but indicated they’d be amenable to covering a portion of the cost of any renovations, as they’ve done in the past.