Fair Board revenue below property value

Randy Garnett

The Wallowa County Fair Board has been in the news the last few weeks because it owns land needed to complete an 80-foot right-of-way for property Wallowa Memorial Hospital wants to purchase for a new hospital. The city of Enterprise wants to buy an additional 35 foot of right-of-way so that it can extend a road through the property all the way to Golf Course Road to the west.

The fair board and the city have widely different opinions as to the value of the 46,200 square feet of land in question. The city offered to buy the land at a value of $13,000 while the fair board values the land and property at $165,000, including the $40,000 replacement value of two horse barns which would have to be removed.

The county fair board holds assets such as Cloverleaf Hall, indoor and outdoor arenas and other structures, but only has $109,000 budgeted for revenue in the current year. About $34,000 of that total comes from state of Oregon lottery dollars and $24,000 from a Forest Service grant written by fair manager Randy Garnett and Sara Miller of the Northeast Oregon Economic Development District. The grant is to be spent on a new well on the grounds and to finish kitchen improvements at Cloverleaf Hall.

Another $12,000 comes from the county's general fund, while the balance of the revenue is generated by the renting out of facilities such as Cloverleaf Hall, the horse barns and the indoor and outdoor arenas.

Garnett figures the rental of the stall barns at $2,160 each year.

The biggest events the fair board is involved with during the course of a year are the Wallowa County Fair, Hells Canyon Mule Days and a series of horse shows. Businesses and organizations such as the Wallowa County Grain Growers, Wallowa Valley Health Care Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Stockgrowers rent Cloverleaf for annual gatherings.

Garnett says that 70 to 80 percent of the fairground use is by 4-H students. Only when events are coordinated with groups outside the county and a charge of a fee is being made does the Fair Board charge 4-H for usage of the facilities.

According to Garnett administration costs amount to $38,000 a year and insurance and supplies costs another $24,000. Putting on the fair itself costs the board an additional $18,000. Another $12,000 from this year's budget is being spent on repairs, much of that total on Cloverleaf Hall.

Garnett said that representatives from the Fair Board and the City of Enterprise were set to meet Wednesday night in an effort to settle their differences concerning the right-of-way property.

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