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For a well-run county and well-run fair, vote for change

In response to a newspaper article that said the Fair Boosters are complainers and not helpers, I suggest the truth be told.  

First off, I am George W. Horner of Forest Grove, who graduated in math from Pacific University, was a naval officer in combat in World War II, came back to Forest Grove and spent 36 years at Pacific University in administration. In addition, my son David and I raised and trained registered Suffolk draft horses.

In 1970, I started to show our horses at the Washington County Fair, and soon became manager of the draft horse activities. For the following 30 years, we had a six-day program of activities for draft horses. We became the largest draft horse show in Oregon, including the Oregon State Fair. In those years, I would show at several Oregon and Washington county fairs, and later also at the Puyallup State Fair. With the able help of Cal Wade, fair manager, the Washington County Fair was the best of the lot. The fair provided an opportunity for the farming community of Washington County (a big economic engine) to exchange ideas and continue improving farming practices.

But we had a problem. We needed $65,000 to $75,000 for the upkeep and rebuilding of fair buildings each year. We were able to successfully put together a 1 percent tax on county motels and hotels to raise these funds, which were dedicated to the repair and rebuilding of fair buildings. Now, I understand it produces much more, about 10 times that much.

So now, where are we? The current management has pulled down 13 buildings and has not replaced a single building. From what we had to what we now have, it is a pathetic four-day event with buildings falling down and horses and sheep in one barn. What a mess.

Let’s talk finance. Everyone gets in free at the Washington County Fair, but you must pay $5 to park your car. So it appears the 1 percent tax money is paying for operation and salaries, not buildings. Is this legal? As a senior and guest, I paid $28 at the Puyallup Fair. But they do have a great show to see and people will pay for that.

Let’s talk Fair Boosters. The Boosters are like alumni at a university: they make things happen. Boosters help with areas such as flowers, cows, food and art. I helped with horses. On my desk is a list of 32 projects completed at the fairgrounds, like the year we painted the fair buildings at no cost to the fair.

The fairgrounds belong to the people - not politicians or the Fair Board (currently comprised of the Washington County Commissioners). It should be open all year, like a well-kept park, with activities for public use. The financial operations should be open for public review. Volunteers should be encouraged. My concern is that the fair and grounds will become just another shopping center. So, Mr. Fair Board member, come to Booster meetings. Ask and you will receive the truth.

In May 2013, I wrote this letter and things have not gotten a darn bit better. So what do we do? We hire people to run the fair who understand how it should be done. If we encourage the Boosters, a new effective fair will appear. After all, it was the Boosters of the fair that gave the money for the land years ago. We can have a good county fair, but not with Andy Duyck as Washington County chairman, and not with Bob Terry as Washington County Commissioner. After all, if they can’t run an effective fair, how can we expect them to run a whole county?

So if you want a well-run county, a well-attended county fair, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE. Be a Booster. It can be done.    

Elect Allen Amabisca for Washington County Commission chairman and elect Elizabeth Furse as county commissioner in District 4. 

George W. Horner is a long time Booster and proud of it. He lives in Forest Grove.



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