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Fairground repair gets rocky start

The county court let the fair board know there is a limit to the amount of money that will be available for improvements and that workers will have to be paid prevailing wages
Making repairs and improvements to facilities at the county fairgrounds is apparently not going to be done without some conflict between the county and the fair board.
   Getting facilities at the county fairgrounds to a condition that is safe and up to code is turning out to be not a simple "pick up a hammer and fix it" process. Letters between the county court and the fair board have added spice to the issue. A recent letter from Fair Board Chairman Dave Franke asked for clarification of the court's part in making necessary repairs and improvements. A responding letter signed by all three members of the court set that body's limitation.
   At the request of the county court, county building inspector toured the fairgrounds early last month and found a long list of deficiencies. These, the inspector warned, would have to be corrected or the entire facility would be closed down. The county court accepted that report and, pointing out that the bottom line is safety, said that closing the doors is only one option.
   The court, pointing out that the fair board is responsible for maintaining the fairground's facilities, sent a letter asking that they form a plan to make the corrections. That letter was answered with another letter.
   In his response, Franke said he wanted to document the understanding that board members came away with after meeting with the court on who would fund the improvements and how they would be made.
   It was the board's understanding, Franke wrote, that the court would commit to a cost ceiling of $30,000 to cover electrical and plumbing repairs. Licensed electrician and plumbing contractors are doing the work, Franke wrote, adding that he believed the court has agreed to fund any additional expense "if necessary to meet required code."
   Not so, County Judge Scott Cooper responded. "The county court is not granting the fair board an (open checkbook) for this project." Plus the county had put a few restrictions on the funding that the fair board would have to follow.
   In Cooper's letter to Franke, he made it clear that the court wanted the fair board to make a "good faith" effort to identify as many qualified local contractors as possible to do the work. To the degree that the work can be broken up into parts, Cooper wrote, and distributed among multiple contractors, this should be done.
   Cooper also reminded the fair board that the county is required by law to pay prevailing wages for all projects using county funds. There are no exceptions for this and, he wrote, that work includes installation of the fire suppression system and work done by plumbers and electricians. To make that point clear, Cooper included the levels paid in Crook County. The prevailing wage for electricians, he wrote, is $20 per hour plus $9.07 in fringe benefits and for plumbers $30.10 and $10.10 for benefits.
   Franke has informed the court that repairs on the Indoor Arena's sprinkler system will be done as soon as possible. The estimate bid of nearly $40,000 has been received from a Bend company and will be accepted on an emergency basis
   Other violations found at the fairgrounds included the lack of ADA wheelchair viewing areas for both the Indoor and Outdoor arenas, improvements to the ventilation system in the Indoor Arena and a lack of van accessible parking space in front of Carey Foster Hall among other things.
   In making his original report to the county court, building inspector Bill Clemens warned that the fairgrounds will be closed as of Sept. 8 unless all the deficiencies listed are corrected and approved by the county building inspector.