Decatur County Fairgrounds Study READI 2.0 meeting

WTRE news coverage by Chris Ramey

The meeting was held at the Extension office located at the Fairgrounds Monday night. The meeting was attended by 17 individuals from various backgrounds and affiliations including 3
Commissioners, and several members of the County Council.
The meeting was led by County Council member Deanna Burkhart and Commissioner Jeremy
Pasel. Jeremy began the meeting stating that we have all been gathered for this meeting to
discuss the next steps of the READI 2.0 grant process. Jeremy went on to talk about the first part
of the process and how the Fairground Master Plan Draft was created and they received a lot of
responses during those meetings.
The Fairground Master Plan Draft was part of the first steps in the process and it was handed out
to all in attendance. It was expressed that this was the plan created by the
design team that was hired originally. It was stated that this design was just a rough layout to get
the conversation started on what is needed and what projects we could work on.
Jeremy Pasel then stated, “We would like to get feedback on how we can allow for new spaces,
increased accessibility, and create a community resource that will be used by not only Decatur
County residents, but also by others coming into the community.”
During the meeting we were told that the part that the committee is working on at this time is
to develop a plan for which to request READI 2.0 funding for. It was
discussed by all in the room that we have a need for a meeting space that can accommodate large
groups. Rex McKinney, Decatur County Memorial Hospital stated, “It is very exciting to see the
county look toward the future and planning for growth.” He went on to say, “Greensburg and
Decatur County present well and projects like this only continue to add to the reason why it
presents so well.” Also Rex McKinney stated, “Each year the hospital holds an event that draws
400 attendees and we must go out of the county to have the event due to the inability to find a
space that accommodates us.”
While the topic of building a facility to house a space for community events to include 4H being
held at the fairgrounds, Commissioner Mark Koors stated, “The two commissioners that were in
office last year and myself, did a lot of work to begin to discuss these very same needs. We
discussed and even had plans drawn and had estimates on the design. For an 80 ft x 145 ft
building that can accommodate 600 attendees, house the extension office, have 1 large garage
door to allow for shows, and 16 bathroom stalls each for 2 bathrooms. This would also include
an industrial kitchen. That price tag was 1.2 million at the time. At that time we set aside
$300,000 and placed that with the Decatur County Community Foundation.”

It was spoken about that this may be the most viable option to go towards for the grant.
Attendees then mentioned that they would like to also look into an Amphitheater-type set up at
the grandstand area. This would include permanent seating, additional lighting, and ADA
accessibility. This would allow us to be a Regional destination for various events that would take
advantage of the Amphitheater.
Christopher Fogle added, “While we are thinking about enhancing this area, one thing we could
be considering is the possibility of re-branding or re-naming the facility. Many would still call it
the Fairgrounds, however we could look at naming the facility an annex or something that would
be representative of activities throughout the year that individuals could utilize the space.”
Parks and Recreation Director Teresa Kovacich, spoke up when the baseball diamonds came into
discussion. Teresa stated, ”The ball diamonds are very busy during the usable months. We have
various teams that practice and utilize those fields. There has been talk about using a diamond
for expansion of the fairgrounds. I would like to not see that happen.” The room agreed with
Teresa on her statement. One attendee stated that he was unaware that it was being used that
often, and thanked her for that clarification.
It was highlighted during the conversation that the READI funds that were being discussed and
the plan we were discussing Monday evening did not include any of the Food & Beverage Tax
conversation. It was stated that this is a separate plan and has been in the works for some time.
Finishing up the meeting it was decided that the READI team would look at erecting a Multi-Use
building, and an Amphitheater at the Grandstand area. Deanna Burkhart stated that she and Mark
Koors have a READI meeting and they would move forward with this process. It was also stated
that this is just the start to the overall Fairground project and this is just the beginning of what the
fairgrounds can become.
Burkhart added, “When we go through this process, we write our plans and what we want to
complete. Ultimately it is up to the state to approve, deny, or partly fund the project. I will add
that the state is looking at our Region very hard and are impressed by what we are doing so far.”
At the end of the meeting I had the opportunity to speak with Commissioner Tony Blodgett’s
comment. Blodgett stated, “While tonight’s meeting focused on the Fairground. This is just
another piece of the Park Road project that has been being discussed for 18 months to 2 years.
There has been and continues to be a lot of work to revitalize not only the Fairgrounds, but the
park, ball parks, and the pool area.”
Following the meeting I had the opportunity to reach out to Deanna Burkhart, County Council
Member and Readi Committee member for her statement about the meeting this evening. Deanna

stated, “It’s always great when we can get different members of our community together for the
betterment of all! The READI process continues to help our community and our region to come
together and see what a treasure our region truly is and to look at the the potential of making it
even better.”

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