Editor’s note: This is the third of a four-part discussion regarding a Nov. 3 referendum to enact a tax levy of one-quarter of one percent for relocating the Gallia County fairgrounds. Part two of this discussion appeared in last Sunday’s edition of the Times-Sentinel. Subsequent articles will publish in Sunday editions between now and the election.
The Gallia County Junior Fair Board has distributed a “frequently asked questions” brochure to many in the community, held several public meetings and spoken with numerous groups about their proposal. Junior Fair Board members Brent Eastman, Tim Massie and volunteer Jodie Penrod sat down with the Daily Tribune to discuss the proposed tax increase on the Nov. 3 ballot.
DAILY TRIBUNE: Let’s talk now about the new facilities themselves. What are some possible uses for the new, relocated facilities?
PENROD: There are a lot of ways an enhanced fairgrounds and facilities can be used. Some possible activities and events would be wedding or reception venues, meeting rooms for community or civic organizations, church activities, sports, hunting and sporting goods shows are some examples. And, a larger facility will allow us to host larger agricultural shows. The flea market we have now is very popular and having a larger indoor facility also means we could host year-round flea markets.
DAILY TRIBUNE: Will rental rates of the relocated facilities be raised?
EASTMAN: At this time, the rental rates for the new facilities have not been structured. The feasibility study by Johnson Consulting (the Chicago-based firm used by Gallia County Junior Fair Board that specializes in fairgrounds and real estate development) utilized the same rental rate structure for the current fair grounds when developing the operating pro forma for the new facilities, which resulted in a profitable income stream. It is the fair board’s intent to make these facilities available for the enjoyment and use of the community as much as possible. Rental rates will be comparable, if not more affordable, to similar facilities in the region. We want the facilities to be used year-round. That’s what they’re designed for and that’s the board’s expectation and hope.
DAILY TRIBUNE: How will the new facilities be managed?
MASSIE: The fair board will remain in its role of providing oversight of the new facilities. However, an operational manager will be utilized to oversee day-to-day operations and rental operations of the facilities in order to maximize the potential to the community.
DAILY TRIBUNE: How will you pay for that position?
MASSIE: This position will be paid as part of the operating expenses. We plan to cover those expenses by the rental of the facilities since we hope to see the increase from year round availability through the French 500 Flea Market and expanded use of the facilities by the community. The Johnson Consulting study supports our plan of increased operating rental income from an enhanced and larger facility.
DAILY TRIBUNE: We’re told a new facility and fair grounds will create jobs in Gallia County. Can you expand on that a little?
EASTMAN: Because the new facilities can be used year round it is anticipated that usage of those venues will bring more people into Gallia County. Those additional visitors result in increased spending at our community’s restaurants, hotels and retail establishments. According to the Gallia County Fair Relocation Feasibility Study performed by Johnson Consulting mentioned earlier, it is anticipated the new fair grounds and event center will create an additional $6.23 million in indirect spending per year, resulting in 54 additional jobs for our community.
I might also add, it’s those same visitors who will help pay for relocating our facilities as they pay sales tax.
Part four of this series that will publish next Sunday will discuss plans for the new facilities. Readers who have questions about the tax levy or fair facilities are welcome to email those to Bud Hunt, [email protected] In turn, those questions will be passed on to Gallia County Junior Fair Board members to answer in a future column.