On June 10, I attended the Preble County Commission meeting’s “Public Comments” portion regarding the Capital Improvement Grant applied for by former Commissioner David Wesler on behalf of Preble County. As noted in the March 27, 2014, article of The Register Herald, the grant was to “..upgrade portions of the fairgrounds including electrical systems, roadways, buildings, restroom facilities, and more.”
The issue discussed by Mary Bullen at this meeting was that the current county Commission has decided not to address the electrical system upgrades and addition of restroom facilities at the Expo with the grant money. Commissioner Denise Robertson offered support of the original stated intent of the grant. What I find troubling was Commissioner Creech stated that he has called individual Fair Board members to set up meetings that do not include invitations to the full fair board.
The Preble County Fairgrounds will in the near future be subject to competition from a brand new Montgomery County Fairgrounds and that facility will more likely than not begin attempting to attract events from surrounding fairgrounds and the region. It is my opinion that the grant money should be used to upgrade the electrical system of the Fairgrounds, which has previously been mentioned as the biggest expense facing the Fair Board during the week of the fair. Restroom facilities at the Expo building have been mentioned as a much needed addition by facility users. Loss of events for lack of restrooms at the Expo will have a negative impact on the Preble County economy and in particular, Eaton. Any savings from electrical system upgrades can be put toward painting and new roofs at the Fairgrounds. The $875,000 capital grant is subject to “prevailing wage” laws and I see no reason to spend money on that pay level for painting that could be done at a later date and not subject to the higher wage demands of a state grant.
Mr. Creech has mentioned that he would like to have a nice looking building that he can put his name on as a sponsor. This is fine — put new restrooms at the Expo building and auction off the naming rights to the highest bidder.