Commissioners to expand Expo Center

By Kelsey Kimbler -

EATON — Preble County Commissioners are planning to make an expansion to the Expo Center building at the Preble County Fairgrounds, allowing for a venue for weddings and other events to be housed.

The topic first came up during a commission meeting held on Wednesday, Sept. 6.

“On the letter that was sent back to Jeff Rezabek back in 2015 regarding the Capital Improvement project at the fairgrounds, it is now time to start that again,” Clerk Connie Crowell said. “We need to start compiling information on what we need to write to him. From the meeting we had yesterday, does that change our scope of project?”

Commissioner Chris Day noted, “We’ve been discussing the Fair Manager’s office and the sheriff’s office. Both of those buildings are in very bad shape. We’ve had brief discussion about tearing down both of those buildings and putting up one complex that would have a simple eating area and restroom.

“I guess, the question would be for us, would we be interested in putting an extension in?” he continued. “We’ve had that discussion in the past about putting an extension in at the fairgrounds?”

The board decided to seek more information and see exactly what they are interested in, but Day said his priority was the Expo expansion project.

Discussion continued during the commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 13.

Mike Carroll with Brandsetter Carroll, Inc. and Fairgrounds Manager Jim Shute attended the meeting to speak to the board about their expectations and plans.

They focused on the Expo building and how much it would take to expand it. However, Carroll made it clear the best building option would be out of the commissioners’ budget. They discussed alternatives, including sizing the proposed extension down, but Commissioner Day and Commissioner Rodney Creech were afraid there wouldn’t be room to house weddings or events.

Finally, Day suggested building a “shell” and leaving part of the floor gravel so they could add the underground components later. This would allow them to build the size of building they want and then finish the rest in phases.

Carroll agreed it would be a good plan.

After Carroll left, Shute spoke about additional fairgrounds plans. The commissioners wanted a list for the next submittal of applications for grant money.

“Our sheep show area is not near big enough to contain what we’re doing now, so that needs improved,” Shute said. “The produce building either needs repaired or replaced. I personally want to repair it. We need bleachers inside the track, those things sell out so fast. We need portable bleachers.”

He said those are just some of the things needing to be improved. Officials are hoping to get grant money for these projects, but Shute added, their best bet would be to finish the Expo building first and then start with the other projects.

“I guess that is my question,” Commissioner Day said. “Do you as fair manager think this would be a good project?”

“You would rent it out,” Shute said. “Right now in Preble County we do not have a place to go. You think about safety for kids and our county — we shouldn’t have to drive clear down to Oxford or out of the county.”

“Think of the local vendors, you could have a caterer in there every weekend,” Creech added.

Shute said, “I think it would be good and I would be surprised if it wasn’t.”

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH