Update is given on fairgrounds grandstand project

Benton County Legion Color Guard at the Benton County Fair in 2019.

By Jim Magdefrau

VINTON – An update on the renovations for the grandstand at the Benton County Fairgrounds was given at the Benton County Board of Supervisors meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 28, at the Service Center in Vinton.

Dale Seeck of the fair board said they met with Farmers Savings Bank about a loan, along with help from the county on the loan. They are putting $50,000 towards this project. The bank is willing to help with this. Seeck added they are done with the leveling on the grandstand. They are also working with Benton Development Group (BDG) on available grants, as well as fundraising, while checking with banks and seed companies to contribute.

The total cost is $170,000. As he said before, the fair board is putting $50,000 to this. They are also working on lighting.

The board is also exploring naming of the grandstand and other buildings.

Nicole McKenna of the board said they are working on a fundraising letter and a list of possible donors. She hopes to get $30,000 in fundraising. She added this is the 150th anniversary of the Benton County Agricultural Society.

They hope to have this completed by the next fair, which is held in June. It will also be available for Sunday night racing.

Supervisor Richard Primmer updated the board on the use of Local Option Sales and Services (LOSST) revenues. Primmer suggested looking into LOSST funds from Vinton. The county also has guidelines which help in the purchase of ambulances and fire trucks, or “any other lawful purpose” with its LOSST funds. Primmer asked Benton County Attorney David Thompson if the fair board would qualify as a non-profit organization.

Thompson said they would qualify if they meet the requirements of the Iowa Code. He was not sure if they did.

Primmer urged looking into LOSST funds from the City of Vinton, since the city benefits from the fairgrounds.

Seeck asked about qualifying under the Iowa Code. Thompson read the code chapter on this regarding county fairs. Thompson asked if the board has been publishing its annual financial statement. Seeck said they have. Thompson then asked if financial statements, voucher and payment information have been provided to the board of supervisors. Thompson pressed them on when they have provided this information. Thompson stressed they are not eligible to receive any county funding unless they have provided the supervisors with detailed financial statements, under Chapter 174 of the Iowa Code. Thompson stressed this has to be done every year.

Thompson suggested providing at least five years of statements. Fair board members said this should be no problem.

Thompson then asked when was the last time was that the fair board’s financial statement was published in area newspapers. They believed this was published in January.

Thompson explained that most people coming into the board room looking for money provide detailed information. He stressed the code requires the fair board to provide detailed information before it can get county money.

“As it stands right now, you legally can’t give them a dime,” Thompson advised the supervisors.

Thompson also asked for the fair board’s bylaws.

Primmer felt it was great news that they are looking at fundraising and grants. He also agreed that the supervisors need some numbers before they give any money. He felt the fair board had done a great job.

Other business

A land use hearing was held for John and Rhoda Harris for land in Section 23, Benton Township, between Shellsburg and Urbana. They plan to build a new home on the land, along with a Morton Building. They currently live in Polk City. The land is now owned by Ron and Connie Fish. Rhoda is their daughter. The land is not in production. The average Corn Suitability Rating (CSR) is 50. The driveway will be moved to the south. Land Use Administrator Marc Greenlee says this meets all of the objectives of the land use plan. No land is being taken out of production. It’s a family building a new home on family land. The change was approved.

The board considered appointing Mindy Icenbise as medical examiner investigator. She lives in the Montezuma area and works in the Belle Plaine area. Richard Primmer had a question about determining her mileage and place of work. He wanted the county attorney to clarify this. The board decided to table this and put it on the agenda for next Wednesday, Jan. 5.

A bridge embargo was lifted on 16th Avenue in Leroy Township. The last of the concrete was poured on the structure north of Luzerne last Thursday, Dec. 23. They are testing the structure now. With the new structure in place, the weight embargo can be removed, according to Benton County Engineer Myron Parizek. He expected it to be opened by the end of the week.

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