The Independence Quorum Court voted in favor of giving the Independence County Fair board $32,488 Monday night.
Since there was no fair last year due to the pandemic, organizers asked for the financial support in hopes that the fair might return this summer.
Normally, if there had been a fair last year, the fair board would start off the year with about $70,000 in the coffers. Without revenue from the fair itself, the board’s funds have dwindled down to around $18,000.
When it became clear there would be no fair last year, electricity, gas, water was shut-off to the buildings. Now those utilities will have to be reconnected, and there will be reconnection fees of course, plus the costs of getting the grounds and buildings back in shape for visitors. The fair board has to pay around $1,000 per month in insurance to be able to host events, even if a pandemic cancels the events and no one is using the grounds.
The decision to cancel the fair was made in May.
While rural Independence County has fared better than urban areas of the state in terms of the pandemic itself, the board found themselves facing an impractical and infeasible mountain of state required health-mandates. Things like contact tracing all entrances and limited capacity in all areas, such as the vendors in the commercial building.
Somet things, like ribbons and such, had been purchased in hopes that the virus would subside, and communities could resume having large gatherings such as fairs and livestock shows. Those are in storage and can be used whenever health officials give the green light to big gatherings like festivals.
The board is also shopping for a new carnival-ride vendor.
“If they can’t have a fair this year, it might help them get back started the year after next,” said Brent Henderson, during the discussion before the vote.
The quorum court also passed an ordinance that passed along a $15,000 grant from the state to the Cord Volunteer Fire Department’a general improvement fund. The quorum court also passed an ordinance keeping the $60 plus sales tax household trash collection fee special assessment against real estate property taxes. If the fee is not paid by Oct. 15 of each year, a 10 percent penalty shall be applied. There will no longer be a $2.50 collector’s fee associated with household trash collection bills.
In other business Monday night, the Independence County Quorum Court re-established its Economic Development Commission Monday night and named Zach Harber the chairman of the commission. Zach Harber, director of Career and Technical Education with the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville will serve as the chairman of the committee and Independence County Judge Robert Griffin will serve as the property manager for the committee.
“We’ll be having public meetings each month, prior to the scheduled quorum court meeting,” Griffin said.
Independence County Treasurer Paul Albert will serve as the treasurer for the commission. Tim Stewart will serve as secretary for the commission.
The Independence County Quorum Court also welcomed their newest member to the group Monday night as Jimmy Limbaugh, took the official oath of office, prior to the first meeting of 2021. The quorum court also established it’s policies and procedures for the upcoming year.