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Our View: County needs to change fair manager position


November 18, 2016

For the third time in less than three years, the Great Northern Fairgrounds is without a manager.

Tim Solomon resigned  in 2015 after 12 years in the position, amidst the board redesigning the fairgrounds manager job description.

Since then, the board has hired two fairgrounds managers, both of whom have since resigned — one who resigned after the fair board rescinded its firing him in an unannounced meeting the week before.

While the county looks at who will take the place of Bob Horne, who submitted in an email his resignation Wednesday, it also needs to look at the purpose of the fair manager and should change how the position is handled.

The position now includes maintaining the fairgrounds as well as promoting and managing the grounds, including planning and managing the annual Great Northern Fair in July.

Those are separate duties requiring separate sets of skills and entirely different workloads — and should be separate positions.

The county government should establish a position to take care of the grounds — to make sure the roads are plowed in the winter and drivable in the summer, to make sure facilities are ready for use, clean and nice to look at, and to handle general maintenance and repairs.

The duties of finding and booking events, and setting up events for people who ask to use the fairgrounds, should be an entirely different position.

Mowing the grass, keeping the roads clear and usable, handling emergencies like water main breaks or electrical problems and handling general maintenance and repairs like painting buildings or having roofs repaired requires someone with a wide range of maintenance, handyman skills. Finding acts and events for the annual fair along with managing employees, volunteers, reports and the regular yearly activities of the fair while, at the same time, finding and promoting other events throughout the year to entertain the local residents and generate revenue from the fairgrounds requires someone with solid managerial and promotional skills.

Perhaps neither job is worth a full-time position, and we at the Havre Daily News realize that these are tight budget times for the county. Perhaps that could be solved by creating two part-time positions.

Whatever is done, the county now needs to look, once again, to fill the fairgrounds manager position.

What has been done in the last two years doesn’t seem to be working very well. The county needs to change how the position is handled as well as look at how to fill it.


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