New commission eager to resolve PCAA dispute

PCAA’s 601 Hillcrest Drive building has remained in limbo

By Braden Moles -

EATON — In just the second commission meeting for Commissioners Adam Craft and Rachael Vonderhaar, a long-standing issue from the previous board – the Preble County Art Association’s 601 Hillcrest Drive property – led off their Wednesday, Jan. 6 meeting.

After numerous meetings with no action taken, progress was finally made as the commissioners moved to place the county-owned land up for public bid after a presentation by Cheri Simons, president of the Board of Preble Arts.

She took an opportunity to welcome the new board as well as update them on Preble Arts’ previous interactions with the commissioners regarding the property.

The PCAA had previously met with the commissioners on Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, where then-executive director Vicky Fanberg provided a timeline to the commissioners of the PCAA’s communications with the county.

Simon referenced this timeline, saying the PCAA has been working to resolve this issue for nearly four years.

“You know that we’ve offered opportunities for the commissioners to purchase the building from Preble Arts for accounting purposes,” Simon said. “We’ve also indicated that we’re willing to buy the two acres on which the building sits so that we can use it for additional art purposes, or to sell to another entity and use the proceeds to enhance our operations on Main Street.”

The previous board voted on Feb. 19, 2020, to issue bid packets. After the PCAA was given a 30-day timeline for the bid packets to be released on March 11, 2020, no further action was taken due to the stoppage of non-essential business. Then-Commissioner Rodney Creech speculated during that Aug. 10 meeting that the bid process would have already been done had it not been for COVID-19.

“If you choose to sell the two acres, it is important to use to know that you will indicate in the selling process that the building and improvements on the acreage are subject to the recorded lease between the Preble County Commissioners and the Preble County Art Association,” Simon said. “We thank you for addressing this long-standing issue at this very early point in your terms as commissioners, and we look forward to working with you to find a mutually satisfactory resolution to this situation.”

Commissioner Craft said it’s high time a decision was made, one way or the other.

“You guys can move on and we can move on as a community and do what’s best for the citizens of Preble County,” he said.

Commissioner Vonderhaar echoed Commissioner Craft’s comments, saying they’re looking forward to getting caught up on the topic and moving forward.

Later in the meeting, Commissioner Craft made the motion to begin the process of putting the property out for bid, which was then seconded and passed.

“I think we’ve kicked this can about as far as we can kick it, so we need to move on one way or the other,” he said.

The Preble County Board of Commissioners meets every Monday and Wednesday in the Preble County Courthouse at 9 a.m. These meetings are open to the public.

PCAA’s 601 Hillcrest Drive building has remained in limbo

By Braden Moles

Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles

Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles