By Ryan Berry
GREENVILLE — The Darke County Fair Board arrived for their meeting on Wednesday evening needing to fill three vacancies on the board. Immediately at the start of the meeting, board members learned they would need to fill a fourth seat. President Greg Pearson informed directors he received a call from Dudley Lipps at 4:15 p.m. who announced he was resigning from the board.
Vice President Jim Zumbrink moved to accept the resignation and Heidi May seconded the motion. It was approved unanimously.
With Lipps being named treasurer at the previous meeting, directors agreed to appoint Marla Werner to that officer’s position going forward.
Pearson expressed the importance of filling the vacant seats. “I personally don’t feel we can make it through the fair with seven members,” said Pearson. He explained the board has 11 seats and is required to have at least seven directors at each meeting in order to have a quorum in order to conduct business. Wednesday’s meeting was held a week late because they would not have had a quorum the previous week.
The board received 12 resumes for the original three vacancies. Four of the applicants were disqualified because they were not members of the Agricultural Society. Board members that were available last Wednesday had an opportunity to interview the candidates. At Wednesday’s meeting, board members were given a blank sheet of paper and asked to write down their four choices to fill the vacancies. The top four vote-getters would then fill the seats. Appointed to the Darke County Agricultural Society’s board of directors were two past board members, Brian Rismiller and Craig Bowman. First-time board members are Russ Skaggs and Curtis Yount.
The appointments are only for this year. The seats previously held by Doug Martin and Lipps will be on the ballot as two-year terms to fill the remainder of the term. The seats previously held by Thomas Shaw and Matt Sullivan were scheduled to end in 2023. There will be four seats available for a three-year term. Jason Manning and Werner’s terms also in 2023.
The new board members will need to be sworn in before the next meeting of the board.
The Society’s officer team worked prior to the meeting to determine exactly where they stand on fundraising for the proposed new buildings. Zumbrink led the discussion. In 2019, the board set a goal of $2.6 million. A total of $1,176,327 was pledged toward that goal. Thus far the board has received $904,634 and there is $271,693 in outstanding pledges.
Zumbrink further broke down the pledges that have been made per possible barn or combination building. He stressed these funds have not necessarily been received but have been pledged. The dog department’s pledges are $100,050, goats $131,300, swine $721,467 and pledges for a multiple use building is $223,510.
This does not include the $500,000 capitol grant received from the state. The Society was given permission to spend $200,000 of the funds on the fair’s north-end water project. The fair would have been in jeopardy if the project had not been completed. There is approximately $300,000 remaining that sits in a separate account. “I think the grant can be pushed back another year; from the way I understand it,” said Zumbrink. He believes the funds would need to be spent by January 2024.
“You see where we stand,” said Zumbrink. “Three buildings that were proposed at that time was $2.6 million. You see where we stand; that’s the reason why we haven’t moved forward. We can’t afford to put this place in debt that deep.”
Zumbrink assured attendees the funds are there and are in a separate account. Some of the money has been used to purchase bleachers, pens, and fans that will be used in these buildings.
When asked what he thinks the timeline will be, Zumbrink said, “You tell me. We don’t know. We kind of lay some of it on 2020 when everything came to a screeching halt.”
It was pointed out that the cost of the buildings and the $2.6 million estimate was from 2019. They all believe the cost has risen dramatically due to the current inflation rate. Director Jason Manning suggested it could easily be a 30 percent increase today.
The board is expected to look at additional fundraising possibilities in the near future.
In other business, the board selected SISCO and owner Gail Overholser as the 2023 Fair Parade Marshal.
To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].