By Ryan Berry
GREENVILLE — The Darke County Agricultural Society’s board of directors originally scheduled a special meeting to fill one vacant seat on the board due to the resignation of Thomas Shaw and elect officers. On Thursday evening, the board had two more vacancies to fill.
The Daily Advocate/Early Bird confirmed earlier this week that Matt Sullivan had submitted his resignation; however, the board was surprised to learn that Doug Martin, board president, had also submitted his resignation. Greg Pearson, who was serving as vice-president when the resignation came in, said he learned of the vacancy a few minutes before the meeting began. In addition to Martin’s resignation, his wife, Beth Martin, resigned as the junior fair coordinator. With eight members, the board accepted the resignation of Sullivan and Martin by a 6-2 vote. Voting against accepting the resignations were Heidi May and Dave Singer.
The question then came as to how the board will fill the three vacant seats. Jim Zumbrink said he felt the board was blindsided last month and decided to have a “cooling off period” after a vote to approve Jerry Marker to the board failed. “Are we going to do the two tonight or let them sit for a month and do the one tonight,” he asked?
The meeting was held in front of a capacity crowd and several supported Marker in getting appointed to the board because he was the next highest vote getter. Those speaking felt it was the wishes of the Agricultural Society’s members that even though Marker lost the election he should be seated. Those speaking did not address the wishes of the society’s members that did not vote for Marker.
For the second consecutive meeting, Zumbrink moved to bring Marker onto the board. Dudley Lipps seconded the motion. The motion failed on a 4-4 vote. By law, they must have a majority for the motion to pass. Voting for the motion were Zumbrink, Lipps, Marla Werner and Pearson. Voting against were Jason Manning, May, Dean Neff and Singer.
When asked why they voted against Marker, Neff shared he felt it was a conflict of interest for Marker to serve. He explained Marker has J&M Ranch that can compete with the fairgrounds for events. Singer and May shared that was their reason as well. Neff said, “He’s got camping, he’s got a thing up there with music. He comes in here and sits on the board and can listen to all of our rates that goes on here and can take the rates up there and use them or have the rates less.”
Neff was also asked what he felt was the best way to fill the three vacant seats. “Really,” he asked? “I think we need to start over from completely scratch. The way this is, this is fricken awful. This is as embarrassing as hell for the ag society to be like this.” He added, “If it takes the state coming in and setting a new board and going from there, let it be.” He said if he would have known what was going on he would not have turned in his paperwork.
After several minutes more of discussion, Zumbrink shared that he had discussed the issue with the president of the Ohio Fair Managers Association (OFMA) who suggested the board accept resumes to fill the seat. He made the motion, which was seconded by Singer. The board will take resumes until Nov. 25. Criteria will be published on the Darke County Fair’s website on Friday. The motion was approved 6-2 with Pearson and Lipps voting against. Marla Werner suggested candidates give their contact information, qualifications and experiences, reasons for wanting to serve and why they are the best candidate for the position.
The appointments will only be through next year. Those individuals will be required to run again in August to either fill the remainder of the term or if that term was ending for a new three-year term.
Persons announcing their interest during the board meeting were Eddie Morrison, Brian Rismiller, Krista Fourman, Kathleen Ditmer, and Tim Reck. Russ Bennett shared he was interested following the meeting. They will all need to submit a resume by Nov. 25.
With no new board members to fill the seat, the current eight members chose the coming year’s president, vice-president and treasurer. Pearson was chosen as president, Zumbrink is the new vice-president and Lipps will serve as treasurer.
Rhonda William, OSU extension, was selected to serve as interim junior fair coordinator until a new coordinator is hired.
Although the board had to navigate through several issues that at times seemed borderline volatile, Zumbrink also shared some good news with the other board members and the audience. Dave Niley has been selected for induction into the 2023 class of the Ohio Fairs Hall of Fame. His induction will take place on Jan. 15, 2023.