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County board approves new fair building
July 03, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
It took a lengthy discussion, but Scotts Bluff County Commissioners approved funding for a new multi-purpose building at the county fairgrounds in Mitchell.
The County Tourism Committee earlier approved an application from the Scotts Bluff County Ag Society for a $125,000 capital improvement grant, which would be paid out over the next five years.

Fair director Lanna Hubbard told the county board the total cost of the building was $250,000, secured over 25 years from the local Pinnacle Bank. The fair board’s sinking fund and other fundraising events would pay off the bank loan.
The multi-purpose building, which is already under construction, is 82x150 with a dirt floor and would be used for livestock shows, car shows, and other activities during the fall and winter months.

“The cost of operation and utilities I’m kind of basing on costs from the main events center until we know the actual costs,” Hubbard told the board. “Costs for the main events center is anywhere from $1,200 to $2,000 a month.”

County Tourism Director Brenda Leisy said her committee would give the Ag Society $25,000 a year as construction receipts come in, so all their support goes to the actual construction of the building.

Commissioner Steve Stratton wondered what would happen if the new building didn’t cash flow. “This is an individual group going to a bank and securing a loan to put up a structure on land you don’t hold title to,” he said. “That seems rather unusual.”
A discussion followed on the status of the Ag Society as a corporation and what it does with any profits generated by its activities.

Hubbard said all the buildings on the fairgrounds, including the new one, would be used a collateral for the bank loan.

“This expenditure fits within the guidelines of that the tourism committee does,” said Commissioner Ken Meyer. “They’ve funded the Riverside Discovery Center and the new Legacy of the Plains Museums. These are organizations that bring in a lot of tourism dollars.”
Meyer also pointed out that many activities held at the fairgrounds, outside of the fair itself, also bring in tourism dollars. One example he gave with the spring dog show, which brings close to 1,000 dogs and owners to the area.

Board Chairman Mark Masterton said while he thinks the grant was a good idea, he’d like more time to study the variables, from the collateral question to whether funds could be generated from naming rights.

“I just don’t want to rubber stamp this before we know more about it, so I’ll vote no on the motion,” he said. But the grant was approved on a 4-1 vote.

Leisy also updated the board on activities for the county’s 125th anniversary celebration over Oregon Trail Days. The county will have a float in the main parade on July 13 and cupcakes will be served on the courthouse lawn that day. The county also has numerous collectibles for the event, including T-shirts, ball caps, water bottles and others.
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