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Fairgrounds health and safety issues reported

The county building inspector, after inspecting the county fairgrounds last week, issued a report calling for a laundry list of repairs and corrections that could close the place down
If the violations found at the county fairgrounds by the county building inspector are not corrected soon, it could mean closing the doors of that facility.
   At the request of the county court, Bill Clemens, Crook County's building inspector, toured the fairgrounds a week ago. His report to the court and members of the fair board list the "many deficiencies" discovered in the structural, electrical, plumbing and mechanical ... of the various buildings. Corrections must, Clemens wrote in his report, be made within 45 days. Failure, he warned, "will result in an immediate closure of the fairgrounds."
   County Judge Scott Cooper said closing down is only one option. "We all knew of the problems at the fairgrounds, and the inspection was done at the request of the court. The fair board is responsibly for maintaining the fairground)s facilities. We have sent a letter asking that they form a plan to make the corrections."
   The goal of everybody involved is safety, Cooper said. Fairgrounds manager Gary Timmerman walked around with Clemens when the inspection was made and helped. "He even pointed out issues that Bill (Clemens) might have missed," Cooper added.
   The list of deficiencies found by the county building inspector ranged from a lack of van accessible parking space in front of Carey Foster Hall, sufficient clearance in front of an electrical panel to installation of a pressure relief valve on a hot water tank. At the time of the inspection, there was a gas smell in the kitchen area of the building.
   Apparently the pilot lights on the stoves had blown out. Cooper said that was easy to fix, simply turn the gas off. "There was no immediate threat to human life or safety in any of the deficiencies," he explained. "A lot of them were little problems, a few were major. The smell of natural gas could indicate a major problem but it was shut off and is no longer a concern."
   Other issues listed by Clemens included the need for visible exit signs in the indoor arena, electrical work that should have been done by a licensed electrician, installation of fire extinguishers at every exit and placing non-slip surface on walkways in the bleachers.
   Cooper pointed out that the estimates will be opened on a project to install a fire suppression system in that facility. The present system is fully charged but the pipes have, he said, a lot of pin hole leaks. "Of course, that building is all metal and concrete," he added.
   Deficiencies found in the outdoor arena mostly involved undisclosed electrical issues as well as handrails on ramps. other buildings on the fairgrounds include:
   Indoor Arena commons area:
    visible exit signs
    exit doors need to be fixed
    wash basin in bathroom needs to be handicap accessible
    bathrooms don't meet ADA standards
    "J" building and the pole building directly behind are a life, fire and safety issue. Both buildings have, Clemens noted, structural and electrical failure and structure removal is suggested.
   Electrical needs at the auction building next to the preschool, have to be brought up to code, also. Dave Franke, a member of the fair board and a private contractor, said he didn't think there was any way to get bids on most of the correcting work. "I think it'll be best to go get a good electrician and a good plumber and walk them through saying fix this and this. And then have it all inspected before calling the county building inspector back."
   Clemens' report states that the fairgrounds will be closed as of Sept. 8 unless all the deficiencies listed are corrected and approved by the county building inspector. Four other concerns would also have to be addressed:
   a review by a licensed supervising electrician of the entire property and certification that the facility's electrical systems are in safe operating order;
   the sprinkler system in the Indoor Arena is operational, tested and inspected;
   a ventilation system as specified by state code is installed in the Indoor Arena.
   a plan and timeline for installation of fire hydrants at the fairgrounds is submitted. Until the fire hydrants are installed, he informed the court, the moratorium placed on the property is in effect.
   In the letter to the fair board, Cooper pointed out that state statute authorizes the fair board "exclusive responsibility for the management of the fairgrounds, responsibility to develop plans for needed capital improvements. The fair board is urged to move forward with all speed to create a plan of action, including obtaining necessary quotes, estimates and bids.
   Franke said he had talked with County Commissioner Mike McCabe about Clemens' report. "The fair board doesn't own the fairgrounds, the county does and any repairs will have to come from the county. McCabe agreed, telling me the county has to step up to the plate."
   The court expects them to approach the county for funds to get the work done, Cooper said, "Because of their budget constraints, we expect for them to come to us."
   "The court is concerned that the fair board take all necessary steps, including closure of the property and restrict of public access, necessary to protect public health, life and safety at the Crook County Fairgrounds," The letter states.
   The county court is expected to take up the matter of making an appropriation to the fairgrounds during the court's regular meeting this week.
   "we have a tremendous summer ahead of us at the fairgrounds," Franke said. and we have to keep the place open. We'll take it one step at a time and get though it."