Fair Questions

Posted: Monday, May 10, 2010 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I admit that I don’t follow the news as closely as I used to but how in the world did I miss this one?
Minneahaha County Commissioners, according to the Argus Leader, are considering options to sell the Sioux Empire fairgrounds and maybe relocate the event!
Where did this come from?
I’ve seen lots of interviews with the new fair manager, Tryg Frederickson, saying the exposition is back on track after former business manager, Kathy Gourley, got caught with her fat fingers in the till to the tune of 648 thousand dollars and is cooling her jets behind bars for the next decade or so.
The fair had to borrow 216 thousand dollars from the county just to have an event last year but has since managed to repay that loan.
In fact, Frederickson says, they’ve been able to reduce the fair’s debt since last August by over 333 thousand dollars! That’s over half of what Gourley embezzled.
I also read that because of the quick rebound, the fair was given the green light to continue for another five years.
Just last week, Frederickson was featured in a Keloland News story showing off recent improvements to the grounds including new lights in the Expo Building.
So who on the county commission is so hot to get rid of the fair..hot enough to convince the commissioners to shell out 25 thousand dollars to hire Steve Sanford, attorney at law, to apparently try find legal loopholes in the deeds that clearly stipulate the fairgrounds will be only be used for a county fair?
I’m not buying any suggestion that it could be relocated. Can you imagine the outcry from taxpayers if the perfectly fine W.H.Lyon Fairgrounds, with all of its recent improvements, was sold and taxpayers were asked to pay for building a new grandstand, exposition hall and all the buildings necessary for a fair at a different location?
Is the subsidy really putting that big of a strain on the county’s 46 million dollar appropriations budget? In spite of some hot stormy weather and a down economy, a  quarter million people passed through the gates last August to enjoy the exhibitions and entertainment and tradition..not to mention the thousands who regularly attend other events on the grounds throughout the year.
If the county wants to spend money on researching the fair’s value..hire one of those experts who figure out what big crowds like that mean to the city and county economy. I’m guessing fairgoers also find their way to the shopping malls, restaurants and hotels while in town.
Or why not redirect attorney Sanford’s 25 thousand dollar mission?
Instead of looking for ways to dodge the dictates of the Lyon Family deeds.. how about he do some legal leaning on the estate of Kathy Gourley who is under a court order to repay the amount of her thievery.
Has she paid back anything? Didn’t she have a house or a car..something of value?
Apparently attorney Sanford has already handed over some of his findings to the county commission but Commissioner, Dick Kelly, tells the Argus that they are “draft reports”..in other words, not available to the public.
Again, I gotta wonder. . who believes that the fair is such an albatross around the county’s neck..especially after it was discovered that the person responsible for  the fiancial shortfalls is sitting in the pokie?
Keep a closer eye on the books from now on..but the Sioux Empire Fair is FINE! Leave it alone.

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