The refusal of three members of the Wallowa County fair board to be interviewed for possible reappointment and the ensuing resignation of two others last week leaves county commissioners with a welcome opportunity to infuse the board with new energy, accountability and openness.

And none too soon.

The seven-member board, facing a severe financial crunch and questions about transparency, now is left with its two recently appointed members, Steve Lear and Brinda Stanley, plus Commission Chairman Mike Hayward, who was named to the board in the wake of the resignations.

Commissioners will name replacements to fill the four remaining seats. It shouldn’t be difficult to find citizens willing to serve, as dozens have emerged in support of the fairgrounds following the failure of the November ballot measure to form a taxing district.

We urge commissioners to find a board member with a background in finance, possibly an accountant, and at least one other with solid business sense including marketing expertise. Financial acumen and marketing experience had been seriously lacking.

We also suggest that commissioners arrange for the new board, once it is fully constituted, to be instructed in the spirit and requirements of the Oregon public meetings law.  

There’s much work to be done at the fairgrounds, in finding financing, repairing and maintaining the structures and race track and booking more events into the facility. And that doesn’t even start to consider upgrading the county fair itself, which is another whole subject.

We wish the “new” fair board good luck in the New Year. We are confident that the job will get done.

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