Darke County Fairboard holds informal discussion on capital funds, donations

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GREENVILLE—The Darke County Agricultural Society Board of Directors met on Tuesday afternoon for an informal work session to discuss their capital grant and fundraiser funds. All 11 directors were present.

At the start of the brief session, Director Jason Manning caught the board up on a recent discussion had at the most recent swine committee meeting.

Manning said there could be some logistical problems in regards to the three-phase building project the board approved in the January meeting.

The three-phase 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.

“One of the comments is that we just kind of pause on that and look at a kind of bare bones steel structure with a roof and lights to start in the foot print of the goat barn, in the area,” he said. “That is kind of where we ended up. That was that discussion, and then we kind of did discuss some options of trying to get more room for the pigs, some different things there. Maybe moving the show ring in a different corner of the barn. Adding some pins.”

Treasurer Marla Werner said after going through the capital grant, and dissecting it, an open-sided bare bones steel structure for swine would fit within the grants verbiage.

“Let’s hypothetically go to the large structure that would house all of the swine,” she said. “Take the goat barn down, put up the open-sided structure. Let say we go that route. It would be complete for swine. It would be back to somewhat the original plan, but maybe not as big of scale. You could do the open-sided, the goats would then go into the replacement barn like originally planned. The swine would have the open-sided large area, and that would be your swine pavilion. Yes, it’s open. But, the grant says it has to be a swine pavillion, that would be a swine pavilion. It even says you can aquire, construct, reconstruct, expand, improvement planning, equipment for a Darke County Swine Community Pavilion.”

While the original thought was that the community center would be inclosed, with a meeting room, bathroom and kitchenette, the board said they cannot get there at the moment financially. Werner added that the grant doesn’t say the pavilion needs those things, and that a pavilion is by definition, an open-sided structure.

While not what the swine committee originally hoped for, Werner said that a bare-bones, open-sided steel pavilion could be a way for the board to get started ASAP on construction with the funds they do have.

Donor Gail Overholser told the board that it would help them if they reached out to the donors and informed they of their plan.

“I’m part of the pledged, received and outstanding,” she said. “I totally plan to honor our pledge, if not more, because we realize with COVID, prices caused a challenge for you guys. I know when we got the last invoice that I didn’t pay, I said ‘When you come up with the plan, let me know, and we’ll go from there.’ I think there’s more money for you to get. It’s just a matter of contacting those people.”

Werner agreed, and told the board she would get them a list of all donors, so they can start recognizing all donors.

“We have their money,” she said. “Even if we didn’t have a plan, we’re going to use their money. We’re trying to figure out what for, and what it’s going to look like, but the focus group has also worked on making sure that we’re recognizing them and giving them recognition.”

Werner then reiterated that a lot will obviously come down to money, but the biggest thing is to decide what they’re going to construct. However they’re closer to the second idea of a bare-bones structure than the first plan of a larger one.

“I’ll speak as a parent, with kids that show swine and as one of the donors,” Mike Fearon said. “As a parent that shows swine, we have a beautiful barn, don’t misunderstand that. It’s beautiful. Our numbers just don’t adequately fit in there safely, but we make it work. I would hate to see the board do something temporary and spend money to do that, when we can wait two years, three years, however long it has to be to do something more permanent.”

Fearon went on to add that an open-sided barn would be perfect for showing swine, but that as a donor, he agrees with Overholser that there’s been little communication.

“Our donation was for the hog barn,” he said. “That’s where our passion is. If you build a community center, would we still be a donor? Yes we would, but probably not to the same level. So, that’s where my frustration as a donor is, is that there’s been no communication to us as a donor, that to me is not a positive feeling as a donor.”

The board must use the capital funds and break ground by January 2024. In addition, they have allocated funds to build a new dog barn and plan to take action on that.

“We also want to do the dogs,” Werner said. “The dogs have a fight in the game too. We’ve agreed on a location [for the dog barn]. We can scale the original size of what the community center was going to be. We can probably get it within the budget of what it was going to be. We can do that.”

Moving forward, the board concluded that they will contact builders regarding the dog barn, and get more information on the area they plan to put the open-sided pavilion.

The proposed dog barn included a closed crating area and an open show arena, located in the area the tent was located during the 2022 Darke County Fair.

“I will call a builder and tell him what we’re talking about,” Werner said. “He can give me a revamp of what we’re talking about, of what we all somewhat agree on. We can start on getting some opinions on the site. It sounds like we’ve got some builders that want to help us.”

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.