Commissioners discuss funds for fairgrounds


EATON – Among the discussions at the Wednesday, July 3, Preble County Commission meeting was the possibility of the county helping fun roof repairs needed for the Preble County Fairgrounds Expo Center building.

Commission President David Haber proposed making an offer to the Preble County Agricultural Society (Fair Board) to help with the roof using county General Fund dollars.

Commissioner Rachael Vonderhaar questioned if the funding from the General Fund would be reimbursed from the Capital Budget for the roof project recently awarded.

“There will be an amendment in January that’s going to revert that money back,” Craft said of the state funding, “Representative Creech is already working on that.”

“To a barn that’s not been approved by the Fair Board,” Vonderhaar said.

Craft noted, there has been a vote by the Fair Board saying they voted to pursue a stall barn.

“So the county general fund should pick up the projects that exist, and have been discussed on this record, and discussed by the Fair Board as priority project?” Vonderhaar asked. “And the general fund should be used for those projects so that a horse barn can be built or gone after? I’m really confused on the fiscal thought here. Especially since the financials really need to be put together to really review the situation related to the horse shows, and have some discussion.”

Haber noted, the problem at hand which can be taken care of because it is getting worse, is the Expo building roof.

“I know that’s a viable option we can look at, and I know they have some funding they can help out,” he said of the Fair Board.

“I look forward to the guidance from the Fair Board as to their list of priority projects and their list,” Vonderhaar said. “And how they’re going to deal with the expectation of the use of what’s been allotted in the state budget. I feel like their voice is important in the situation and they should be included.”

“That’s why I suggested that you bring it up to them,” Haber told Craft of the Fair Board.

“I am not in favor of influencing their priority list,” Vonderhaar stressed. “I would like to hear from them. Especially when it’s using general fund dollars for something that may be paid for elsewhere.”

Commissioner Craft collected quotes for the roof project last winter, according to Haber.

Earlier in the meeting, during the public comments, county resident Joanna Clippinger addressed concerns she had following recent meetings where Commissioner Vonderhaar was questioned about input she provided state officials regarding Capital Budget grant funding awarded to Preble County.

“I have two concerns I want to bring to you this morning. The first is in regard to the recorded audio of speaker Stevens and Representative Creech. If the audio is to be entered into public record, I request that the entire 29-minute conversation be played in its entirety. Forty-five seconds of a half hour conversation can easily be taken out of context. If we are putting people’s reputations on the line, playing the conversation in its entirety is the only fair thing to do. If the commission wants to inform the public, please let us hear the entire 29 minutes. Also, regarding the audio, Speaker Stevens should be given prior knowledge by this commission, if his private conversation or the conversation from anyone on his staff is going to be entered in a public record. He should be given the opportunity to make comments on public record that pertain to the audio.”

She went on to encourage video of the board’s meetings. “As for my second concern, I was very frustrated on Monday by the majority of the commissioners not willing to make meetings available to the public through video recording. We are nearly a quarter of the way through the 21st century. We have the ability and the technology available to video meetings for the public. I would like the commission to make this happen by January of 2025. That should give you ample time to get your ducks in a row and figure out how to do it correctly. If you’re not willing to video, record video record meetings, would you look into what other counties do to inform the public about the businesses of their counties. For example, Montgomery County Commissioners meet Tuesdays at 9:30 for work sessions and executive sessions and then they have a general session at 1:30 to vote on resolutions and have public comments later in the day. Hamilton County meets two times weekly at one o’clock on Tuesdays and Thursdays and every third Thursday they meet at 6:30 in the evening. These counties do this to try to encourage public participation. Remember that commissioners work for the public and you should be giving the public every opportunity to be aware of what’s happening in our county.”

Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on X @emowenjr.

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