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County Invests In Fair

Commissioners approve new caretaker home

RICKREALL — The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved transferring $150,000 to the Polk County Fairgrounds & Event Center to purchase a new caretaker’s home and backup generator.

The caretaker’s home is a 30-year-old manufactured structure that is quickly aging past its prime said Tina Andersen, fair manager.

Andersen said the windows leak; it needs a roof, and has dry rot in several places. Rather than invest more money in the old structure, the board approved $75,000 to replace it.

Andersen said the fairgrounds caretaker is on duty all hours and attends to after-hours and weekend events, making sure people can get into the buildings and clean up when they leave.

“We would lose a lot of revenue without him here after hours and on weekends,” Andersen said.

The caretaker is paid minimum wage. Providing a home and utilities is part of his compensation.

“The bottom line is we need that person,” Commissioner Craig Pope said. “We need them to be comfortable, happy and taken care of because we are not paying them any significant amount, so that is part of the pay.”

The board approved an additional $75,000 to buy a generator for the fairgrounds, which is designated as an emergency shelter by the American Red Cross.

Andersen said the fairgrounds housed and fed people during the flooding in 1996, and is the emergency evacuation center for some school districts in Polk County.

“If the power were to go out, we wouldn't be able to provide that service for our community,” she said.

County Administrator Greg Hansen said the $150,000 would be transferred from the county’s general fund contingency. That is in addition to $75,000 already transferred to the fairgrounds as part of the adopted 2016-17 budget.

The request was approved unanimously.

“I see the fairgrounds property, irrespective of the actual annual fair, as a commercial property and an infrastructure asset that I, as an elected official, have a responsibility to maintain.” Pope said. “It has been prioritized very low over the years.”

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