GREENVILLE — The Darke County Fair Board agreed to move this year’s dog department events into a tent pending construction of a new dog barn at its monthly meeting Wednesday night.
Dog department secretary Becky Baker initially addressed the board, stating the department had raised $27,180 to be put toward the building of a new barn. Under their agreement with the Fair Board, construction on the new barn would go forward once the dog department had raised half of the approximately $90,000 needed to complete the project. The new barn is expected to be finished in time for next year’s fair.
Baker outlined several fundraising initiatives dog department members had undertaken, including hosting a chicken dinner, a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle, as well as pursuing grant funding, private donations and starting a drive on the website GoFundMe.
“Hopefully after fair we’ll continue full-speed ahead on that path,” Baker said.
Concerns were raised about the condition of the current barn, however, whose roof has been replaced with a blue tarp. Board member Thomas Shaw asked if dog department exhibitors would be happy moving into a tent pending construction of the new barn. 2018 Junior Fair Queen Morgan Heitkamp, who oversees the dog department events, said it was something they would be willing to try.
Construction of the new dog barn has been a contentious issue over the past year with Baker having asked at February’s meeting if construction could be broken into two phases, with the first portion of the project going forward more quickly, in order for the new barn to be ready by the time of this year’s fair. Board members countered that they weren’t certain if a two-phase project could be completed for the same price as their original estimate and also stated they had not yet identified a location for the new barn, especially given the indeterminate number of new attractions slated to be brought in by the new ride company.
Shaw also raised the issue of allowing attendees, including reporters from The Daily Advocate, to record the Fair Board’s monthly meetings, which the board currently prohibits.
“We can’t prevent people from recording these meetings. These are public meetings,” Shaw said.
Typically public meetings are allowed to be recorded, providing board members do not vote to go into executive session. Only certain topics are allowed to be discussed in such sessions, however, including personnel matters involving public employees, the purchasing of property, issues relating to pending litigation and matters of security.
“There have been times when we’ve sat here in executive session and said, ‘We can’t talk about this. It’s illegal,’” Shaw said.
No firm decision was reached on the issue.
Finally, junior fair member Faith Wilker said the new Darke County Fair smartphone app should be ready for presentation to the board by next month’s meeting. The app is slated to include maps of the fairgrounds, schedules of events, a portal for purchasing tickets and possibly advertising space. The board approved the creation of the app earlier this year.
The next meeting of the Darke County Fair Board will take place at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 1.
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