Fair orders new building; work to begin soon


By Ryan Berry


GREENVILLE — The cost of the new building being built on the Darke County Fairgrounds continues to be unknown. At the regular meeting of the Darke County Agricultural Society on Wednesday, an update was given on when the board expects the project to get started. Some work has already been done with several trees being removed.

According to Director Jim Zumbrink, the building has been ordered but the board needs to make decisions on colors. “It’s got to be done pretty shortly,” he said. “The building could be here in April. We’ve got drawings here for the foundation and they’re going to start as soon as the weather breaks,” he added.

There was some discussion over whether the floor would be heated. “The quotes, the quote is in there for that. I think I sent it to everybody, so, we just have to work on getting that in there with plumbing permit and stuff like that,” said Director Christoph Keller. Zumbrink also urged the board to go with heat in the furnace also, stating that they would be able to heat the building quickly with heat in the floor and the furnace. “The decision has to be made fairly quick. When they start moving dirt and want to start pouring cement they want to know,” said Zumbrink. Keller and Director Curtis Yount commented they thought the board was unanimous in wanting to put heat in the floor.

A member of the public asked if the board has a budget for the building and a quote and if they have the funds to complete the project. “We’ve got it pretty well narrowed down,” said Zumbrink. There are going to be some things on the outside, such as water and electric going to the building that will be additional expenses.” Following the meeting, the Daily Advocate/The Early Bird asked when the quote would be released. Treasurer Marla Warner said they are working through their 2024 budget and would release it once that is completed. She said they could have a press release ready next week. Since taxpayer funds are being used through a grant received from the state, The Daily Advocate/The Early Bird has submitted a public records request for all quotes associated with the community center/dog barn project.

The board did approve a purchase for the new building. Bender Electric submitted a proposal for a new transformer to handle the building at a cost of $8,977. The board approved the purchase and asked Mike Bender to order the transformer.

The board also approved new rates for 2024. There was some contention over the rates for the horse stalls. Tim Reck, president of the Darke Harness Horsemen Association, pointed out the horsemen have raised nearly $60,000 to fix the horse stalls in the barns. He believes this is the most work that has been done on those barns in the 45 years he has been there. Fair Manager Laura Ahrens told the board they are currently operating at a loss because of the cost to the Agricultural Society. She said the cost was in excess of $170,000 but they only bring in approximately $140,000 in revenue. The board agreed to raise rates. Director Craig Bowman abstained because he has horses in the barns.

At the end of the meeting, the board went into executive session for legal matters. However, the board’s attorney was not present and there is uncertainty as to which of the nine reasons the board convened into executive session. The nine reasons allowed for executive session under the 2023 Sunshine Law are certain personnel matters, purchase or sale of property, pending or imminent court action, collective bargaining matters, matters required to be kept confidential, security matters, hospital trade secrets, confidential business information of an applicant for economic development, or Veteran Service Commission applications. Not all of the reasons listed apply to the Darke County Agricultural Society.

In other business, the board:

Accepted a check from the dog committee for new crate containers;

Approved Bender Electric as the fair’s electrician;

Approved the fair veterinarian contract for the 2024 fair;

Approved the purchase and installation of windows for the caretaker’s home.

The Darke County Agricultural Society’s Board of Directors meets the first Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m., in the Secretary’s Office at the Darke County Fairgrounds.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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