Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 28, 2012

Extension Service buys Boyd County Fairgrounds

Fair board gets OK to complete construction of new show building

ASHLAND — The Boyd County Fairgrounds have changed hands.

The Boyd County UK Cooperative Extension Service purchased the 26-acre facility earlier this month from the Boyd County Fair Board for $620,000.

The fair will continue to be on the property, which will retain its name. This year’s fair will be July 24 through 28.

Both agencies call the move a “win-win,” saying the sale will help the fair sustain its operations far into the future.

The extension service had been leasing property and buildings from the fair board for a number of years, and has bankrolled the construction of most of its facilities, including the Frank’s Extension Community Building, live stock barns and the horse show ring.

Fair President Yvonne Green said the property’s mortgage payments were “extremely high,” putting a financial strain on the event, which derives most of its funding from charitable gaming proceeds.

Greene said the sale “is going to take that (mortgage) headache away so we can put our money into the actual production of the fair. I think this is going to work out on both sides. We work really well together and have for a long time.”

“I think our board just felt better owning it,” said Lyndall Harned, Boyd agriculture extension agent. “It was one of those things that just sort of came together. It made more sense to purchase it all than a couple of little plots.”

The extension service, he said, used money in its contingency fund to make the purchase.

According to Harned and Green, weekly bingo games will continue at the facility for the time being. The most likely change visitors will see is increased activity by the extension service.

“It will give us some programming and educational opportunities,” said Harned, noting the agency’s mission is education. He said extension staff are excited about having such a large piece of property for programing. Ideas have ranged from tractor and lawn and garden shows to nature trails, aquaculture and timber demonstrations.

“It has just sort of opened our minds up,” Harned said.

There are no plans to relocate the agency’s office from Catlettsburg, he said.

Harned also shared good news about the more than eight-month struggle to complete a new show building on the grounds.

“We have approval,” he said. “We got a variance.”

Plans to erect the metal building came to a halt last summer by order of a state building inspector, who said the fair board did not have the proper permit to build what will essentially be a barn.

Harned began navigating the project toward meeting state requirements, only to meet additional roadblocks. State officials said the building was too close to other structures and needed fire resistant drywall.

The variance has settled both those issues, Harned said, adding “the totally official paperwork,” including blueprints, to continue the project arrived Tuesday. The building’s timber frame has been power washed and a construction crew was notified it can proceed with installing the remaining metal structure.

“We’ll get electric in it and we’ll be ready to go,” the agent said. “As soon as the builders can schedule their crew, it will take them a couple of days.”

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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