Ag Society holds work session, talks community center, more

Gaylen Blosser photo.

GREENVILLE—The Darke County Agricultural Society Board of Directors held an informal work session on Tuesday evening. They discussed capital grant funds and shuttle rentals. Director Dave Singer was absent, with 10 directors present.

The board started the work session off with a lengthy discussion on the capital grant funds available to the board, and the proposed community center.

The board was awarded $500,000 from Cargill, a multi-national agricultural corporation based in Minnesota, for the construction of an ‘education center/community building in 2019.

In addition, the board was awarded $500,000 in capital grant funds. About $200,000 of the grant were used to fix water issues, but $300,000 remains towards the construction project. They must use the remaining funds on the construction of a community center or education center of some sort, per the grant.

The project includes a first phase of building an open sided steel framed building to use as a multi species show arena. In the area of the old Dog barn (across from Beef Pavilion), which they hoped to have completed before the 2023 Fair.

The second phase consists of building a community/education center around Gate #1 area. This would have a kitchenette, bathrooms, and meeting room. The building would be available for 4-H, FFA, Junior Fair, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, to name a few, as well as the community. It will also house the dogs during the fair. They anticipated starting that in 2023 as well and hopefully have completed by the 2024 fair. This building is pending ODA approval.

The third phase was to build a multi-purpose barn to be built in the area where the current sheep and goat barns are at.

If approved, the board would start the project with phase two.

Director Heidi May started a discussion on the outside design of the proposed project.

“Are we just putting a basic building?” May asked. “Are we putting anything outside, or making it look pretty?”

Vice President Jim Zumbrink responded, and said he didn’t envision anything “too fancy.”

“I think it needs to be a little fancy,” Werner said. “The capital part of it, and even Cargill, they’re going to want a shiny new penny. I think it needs a little appeal to it.”

Werner added that she recently spoke to a contractor about the project, and he had mentioned a wrap-around porch on three sides of the proposed barn.

“It costs a little more, but I think with the overall appearance, it makes a huge difference,” she said. “But, we can have it priced that way. We just have to decide how we want it.”

Most of the board agreed that the board made an error up when they rebuilt the swine barn on the north side of the fairgrounds, rather than the south by the horses.

After they determined a rough idea of what the center would look like, Zumbrink summarized the situation.

“Before we go out and get bids again, we have to decide whether we’re doing it or not,” he said. “Pretty soon you’ll have people who aren’t going to bid because we cried wolf too many times. When I first came to this board, they had that problem. No one would work for them because of it.”

Director Jason Manning then discussed plans for improving the safety of the swine barn set up, pending the construction of a larger building, which could be three to five years out.

“The only concern I’ve heard about moving the show pin from the center, is pigs need to the washroom to the showroom,” he said. “But we need to go down there and see what’s a possibility.”

He additionally talked about potentially removing a closet in the swine barn to free up more space.

A lot of directors agreed it was a mistake to not have built the replacement swine bar on the south end near the horse barns.

“The chickens, we’d move out there,” Director Brian Rismiller said. “If you all want that chicken barn? Move us out there, we don’t care. The swine can have that barn for their show arena.”

“Do we start thinking about generations to come?” Werner proposed. “We’re basically saying the next big one [barn] has to go down there. What does that look like? Have we really looked at what that looks like?”

Towards the end of the work session, Rismiller said he would commit to voting to move the project forward.

“If you’re looking for a commitment, I know we can’t vote today,” he said. “If you’re looking for a commitment to move forward, if he wants to go get his quotes and start, we need get started.”

Zumbrink then said that it will take at least two months for the construction plans to go through the state. He proposed they collect bids around June 1.

“We need to do something next meeting, in order to be shovel-ready by Sept.,” Director Curtis Yount said.

Next, the board discussed a motion from April’s meeting to not allow Eldora Speedway to rent three of their shuttles for larger races over the summer. The deal was in exchange for fair concert advertisement on the Eldora jumbotron.

While they passed the motion to not allow the rental, a lot of board members have rethought the decision.

“I just think that personally we need to start doing things for other people,” Director Craig Bowman said. “I think a lot of times we ask people to do stuff for us, and we turn around when someone asks us, and we don’t do it.”

Zumbrink’s only issue with resending the motion is that he said if you allow one group to rent the shuttles, then you’re “opening a can of worms.”

“My problem is that you’ve open the door now,” he said. “I just mean you’re opening the door. I will never forget whenever the fireworks people came in here, I said, ‘Let’s donate some money to the Greenville Fireworks. You know what happened the next meeting? New Madison was in here wanting money, and so did Ansonia. We gave both of them money, and we quit doing it.”

Previously, The Light Foundation has requested to use the fair shuttles.

“I think if you put them out there so like Matt Light, or Eldora can rent the shuttles, you will see a return to the fairgrounds,” Director Dean Neff said.

The board agreed to entertain a motion to resend April’s shuttle motion, in the next formal meeting.

The Darke County Fair Board meets the first Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at 800 Sweitzer St., Greenville, Ohio, 45331, in the meeting room across from the fair office. For more information, contact the fair office at 937-548-5044.