Fair board accepts grant; discusses new building


By Ryan Berry


GREENVILLE — The Agricultural Society’s Board of Directors met on Wednesday and received the good news that they have received over $100,000 in grant money to make the fair more inclusive and accessible to individuals with disabilities. Board Treasurer Marla Werner shared the information with the directors.

The announcement was originally made at a breakfast meeting with Darke DD (Developmental Disabilities) on Tuesday. According to Werner, the grant is part of the program unveiled by the 2023 junior fair royalty court and led by king and queen Andrew Wuebker and Elizabeth Brewer. Brewer uses a wheelchair and understands the importance of making the fair accessible to people with disabilities. Brewer and Wuebker shared their plan of Fair for All on opening day of the fair last year.

Some of the items in their plan will be implemented with the grant funding. Several of the barns will have better access by paving the gravel road from the Swine Barn to the Sheep Barn. The alley way abuts the goat and sheep barns and will provide access to both. The asphalt path will also give access to the rabbit barn and the restroom near the barns. The path will continue to the asphalt in front of the Youth Building.

In addition to making the fair more accessible to individuals with mobility issues, the fair will be turning the former Red Cross building into a sensory friendly building. As announced at the Darke DD breakfast, the fair will be getting help from students at Versailles for interior design and Greenville High School for construction. The building will also house a permanent adult changing table. The fair was able to borrow a mobile changing table at the 2023 fair.

Werner shared that this is not a matching grant, and the fair board would not be required to spend money out of its general fund to complete any part of this project. She moved to accept the funds and begin construction. The board unanimously accepted the grant.

The board also got an update on the construction of the new building from Jim Zumbrink. Director Christoph Keller asked about test holes and if the board has a limit to spend on gravel to bring the dirt up in certain areas. Zumbrink said that was part of the Bruns General Contracting bid. Zumbrink noted that Bruns may have to dig the footer a little deeper if they run into something.

Werner pointed to the decisions made at the previous special meeting and said, “We’re pushing the top of our budget now. We’re within, we’re at the top of our budget.” Keller felt they were okay if it was all in the bid but they needed to look close at the money if it is going to be more than that. Zumbrink said because the building moved a little, the board will have to pay to dig out some of the stumps and it will take aggregate to fill those back in. “There will be some additional expenses,” he said. Keller asked if the building site was “set in stone”. “It’s all laid out now,” said Zumbrink.

As previously reported by the Daily Advocate/The Early Bird, the board is nearing $1.1 million for the cost of the building without accepting the optional components offered by Bruns General Contracting. The known funding that is available for the building is approximately $300,000 from a state grant, $500,000 from the Cargill donation and the dog department has pledged $100,050 (according to the list of donations and pledges for each species in the board room). The board has not said where the remaining funds will come from.

The directors also discussed the new rate for vendors at the fair and whether or not to invoice the vendors that paid in full for the 2024 in August 2023. Director Craig Bowman argued the board has been using the money they paid since August, and it should stay at the previous rate. He made a motion to not invoice them for the additional amount. The motion failed with seven directors voting against and four voting for the motion. Voting for the motion were Bowman, Dave Singer, Keller, and Heidi May. Voting against were Russ Skaggs, Curtis Yount, Zumbrink, Werner, Apollo Perez, Dean Neff and Greg Pearson.

The board heard bids for a new skid loader but will go back to the dealers and see if they can bid on a skid loader that uses tracks instead of tires.

The board emerged from a nearly hour-long executive session to approve a five percent pay increase for three full-time employees. The motion was approved with an 8-3 vote. Voting in favor were Yount, Neff, Perez, Skaggs, Werner, Zumbrink, Keller and Singer. Voting against the motion were Bowman, May and Pearson.

The next regular meeting of the Darke County Fair Board will be April 3, 7:30 p.m., Secretary’s Office, Darke County Fairgrounds.

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

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