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Davison County Commission will study use, revenue at fairgrounds

With the final payment due on the Davison County 4-H Fairgrounds this month, the Davison County commissioners, besides arranging a mortgage-burning party, have a bigger problem -- namely, how to make the complex cover its costs.

That topic, as well as others, will be considered when the commissioners meet in regular session at 9 a.m. today in the Commissioners' Room at the courthouse, 200 E. Fourth Ave., Mitchell.

Commissioners Denny Kiner and Gerald Weiss placed the fairgrounds item on the agenda.

"I think we'll do some brainstorming on how to maybe do a better job of raising revenue," Kiner said. "In my own opinion, I don't think we've put the building to its best use in years past."

The county was forced to replace the main building at 3200 W. Havens Ave., after an Aug. 5, 2000, storm -- considered a microburst windstorm by some -- destroyed the 7,680-square-foot meeting hall, and about 18,000 square feet of livestock space at the complex.

The county paid $1.65 million to build a larger, multi-purpose meeting hall and livestock area that was dedicated in July 2002.

The county will lose a large chunk of income when the County Extension offices move to Mitchell Technical Institute later this fall.

Kiner said today's discussion will center on how to make the fairgrounds a more efficient facility.

Kiner believes the county could derive more income if the facility is made more available for weddings, graduations and other events.

In the past the commissioners, concerned about liability, have refused to allow the consumption of alcoholic beverages on county property at either public or private events where alcoholic beverages would be distributed, but not sold.

Kiner said at a recent meeting that it may be time to reconsider that ruling in order to make the facility more marketable. The topic was also introduced at a recent fair board meeting, Kiner said.

"It's paid for at the end of the month and I think it's time to step up and make it pay for itself," he said. "We also hope to get some ideas from the other commissioners."

The facility brought in about $19,000 to $20,000 in revenue in the past year, but expenses were about $70,000, Kinder said.

Also on today's agenda, the commissioners will consider:

* 9 a.m., call to order, Pledge of Allegiance, approval of minutes, citizen input.

* 9:30 a.m., Deputy State's Attorney Jim Taylor regarding establishment of a consolidated equalization board.

* 10 a.m., Public hearing on the 2012 provisional budget.

* 10:15 a.m., Director of Equalization Kathy Goetsch regarding advertising a job opening for a county assessor; and pictometry issues.

* 10:30 a.m., Maintenance Supervisor Mark Ruml regarding the installation of the updated Verizon antenna on the courthouse roof.

* 10:45 a.m. A proposal from attorney Robert Nelson on a welfare claim.

* 11 a.m. Commissioners Weiss and Kiner will lead a discussion on fairgrounds revenue.

* 11:15 a.m., A request from Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg regarding a vehicle purchase.

* 11:30 a.m., Miscellaneous items, including the approval of timesheets and bills for payment.

* 7:30 p.m., the Davison County Planning and Zoning Commission will meet in regular session in the Commissioners' Room.