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Fairgrounds gearing up for summer

SHERIDAN — Staff will turn on the water at the fairgrounds today in a classic sign that summer — and its myriad rodeos, fairs and other events — is coming. The Sheridan County Fair Association is also gearing up for another busy season.

At its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, the fair board heard from a variety of user groups, talked through needed capital improvements and discussed the budget it will present to county commissioners for the upcoming fiscal year.

“We’re getting enthusiastic; we’re gearing up; we’re ready for this season, and it’s going to be a busy one,” Director Jamie Ringley said.

The proposed budget request is $500,100 total, up less than 1 percent from last year’s budget of $498,750.

Ringley said the proposed budget took into consideration year-to-date expenses and revenues and projected ahead to get figures for the entire fiscal year, which will end June 30.

“We did some cutting where we thought we could,” Ringley said. “It’s very similar to last year’s budget.”

Board member Brendon Kerns updated the board on ongoing and future capital improvement projects that will hopefully be funded in the fiscal year 2015 budget. These include:

• Rotomill and overlay on Parking Lot A on the north end of the arena using $90,000 of leftover funds from the recently completed rotomill and overlay of the Exhibit Hall parking lot.

• An electronic sign to place on Fifth Street to announce events at the fairgrounds.

• Extending RV hookups at the fairgrounds. The 10 already in place are booked months in advance, Ringley said. Adding more spaces will require a new electric panel at an estimated cost of $5,000.

• Dredging the pond in the Ed Darrington Rotary Park. This project will likely be completed using Game and Fish grants, Kerns said.

• Continued upgrades to heating and air conditioning in the Pavillion with the ultimate goal of making it a second year-round facility for the fairgrounds.

• Improved lighting in the stall areas and in the shop to promote safety.

• Upgrades to the restroom facilities in the Exhibit Hall, which have been discussed for years but always put on the back burner. Kerns recommended at least getting a cost estimate so restroom upgrades can be included in the capital improvement plan.

In other business, the board approved a cancellation policy that will require a deposit of half of the lease fee when entering a contract to use the fairgrounds, pending approval of the policy by the county attorney. It is hoped this deposit will protect against loss from event cancellations.

The board also approved spending approximately $2,000 to purchase a dog walk and vinyl matting for the Dog Project, a 4-H program that fosters youth development by teaching participants how to train dogs for a variety of dog shows and agility programs.

Program leader Susie Terry submitted a list of 11 needed items to make the program safer and more portable so students can do dog shows around town. The total for the desired items was $7,146.89. Eliason said this year’s budget was tight, but that the board would purchase some equipment this year and some next year, if possible. Terry said Dog Project participants will also be doing fundraising activities to raise money to buy more equipment.

The Sheridan County Sportsmen’s Association made a request that its lease be extended from five to 10 years, which the board approved.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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