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Council Committee Discusses Fairgrounds, Stadium, and More

Daniel Prince

Changes could give Tourism Commission a more active role in marketing fairgrounds and stadium

Tuesday afternoon, the Union County Council Committee on Law Enforcement, Judiciary, and Recreation met to discuss the Stadium Commission and Fair Board. Ronnie Wade made a presentation to the committee on ways he thought the stadium and fairgrounds could be better utilized and maintained, as well as suggested some changes to how the respective boards and commissions could better operate.

Wade stated there are many maintenance needs at the fairgrounds, many of which could be handled through inmate labor. However, the way things are set up now, inmate labor cannot be used. With the fair board overseeing the fairgrounds, none of them are county employees and thus cannot supervise inmates. After meeting with the fair board and other stakeholders to come up with suggestions, the first change Wade suggested was to change the duties of the fair board to have them in charge of all aspects of the Union County Agricultural Fair, but to remove oversight and maintenance of the fairgrounds and allow the Recreation Department and Union County Stadium personnel take care of maintenance, with help from the Union County Detention Center.

A second matter Wade brought up was the Stadium Commission. In recent years, he said it was very difficult to get enough of its members together to have a meeting. He stated that dissolving the current Stadium Commission and rolling its duties into the Tourism Commission would be helpful in event planning and marketing. He stated he hoped if the committee and council decided to make that move, that the Tourism Commission could be expanded to allow in those members of the Stadium Commission who still wanted to serve. He said someone needed to be in charge of planning and promoting events and overseeing the rental of the facilities for those events, and he thought the tourism commission would be best suited for the job. Tourism Director Curtiss Hunter stated that the Tourism Commission has always thought they could do a good job in marketing the stadium and fairgrounds and bringing events to it, though it has never formally requested such an arrangement.

A third matter brought up was money, both for the fair and for maintaining the facilities. Through discussion with Wade and the council committee, it was suggested that the money for the fair and maintenance go through the county’s normal budgeting and procurement procedures. The fair board would submit a budget for the fair each year as to how much money would be needed to put on the fair, with any additional revenues going into a dedicated account for upkeep and maintenance for the facilities.

Dr. John Flood made a motion that an ordinance be drafted to the effect of changing the duties of the fair board to executing the Union County Agricultural Fair and submitting a budget to the county on what is needed to put one on each year, with money spent going through the county’s procurement policies, that all funds raised at the facilities go into a special revenue fund of the county to be used for improvements to the facilities and grounds, that the Stadium Commission be rolled into the Tourism Commission, with the commission being in charge of marketing and planning of events and the Tourism Director in charge of coordinating the rentals of the properties for events.

The committee unanimously approved the motion. Supervisor Frank Hart said he would get with the attorneys to draft the ordinance, and once it was written, he would bring it back to the committee for review and discussion, and the committee would then vote on whether to bring it to the full council.

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