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Kaul: Fair board should start planning on mill levy use


November 21, 2018

Havre Daily News/Ryan Berry

The sun shines on wooden bleachers overlooking the arena at Great Northern Fairgrounds Monday. The Great Northern Fair Board has said that one possible use of a mill levy to help fund the fairgrounds, which was approved by voters Nov. 6, would be for a grandstand at the arena.

The Great Northern Fair Board members at their latest meeting were not able to say what changes they had in mind with the passage of the new taxes to fund the fairgrounds this past election, but they did discuss resolutions and new ideas gained from a recent fair convention.

The board met Tuesday night in the Timmons Room of the Hill County Courthouse. In the public comments portion of the meeting, community member Bob Kaul confirmed with Chair Tyler Smith that it would take some time before the board knew how much money they would receive from the mill levy.

"I think that gives us - the fair board - and the community, it should give us all a year to be able to put a plan together for like a three-year, five-year or 10-year plan," Kaul said.

Kaul added that he hopes the board doesn't overlook the study done by Montana State University-Northern on the best ways to improve the fairgrounds.

Smith said the board found a final sponsor for its sign on U.S. Highway 2.

Loch Electric donated more than $11,000 in work on the Bigger Better Barn on the fairgrounds, Smith added, which will be applied to the sign.

They worked out a two-year contract and once the contract with Loch Electric is up, a strong possibility exists they may be interested in picking up the contract again, he said.

"That's a huge deal, donating us $11,000," Smith said. "Everybody really raves about how bright it is and how good it looks in the barn."

The idea of turning the Great Northern Caboose at the fairgrounds into a cabin was again brought up by Smith.

Kaul said that he had some experience in the railroad industry and had a couple of concerns.

One of the concerns was that when the caboose was made, it was made with asbestos, Kaul said. The other concern had to do with the needing a new type of stove to put into the caboose as the current stove is an oil stove.

"If you're really serious about trying to put that into a cabin, go to Essex and take a look at what they did with those up there to make them into cabins," Kaul added.

At the last meeting, the board agreed to try and find a contractor to install a small fire hydrant in the Bigger Better Barn. Board member Ray Kallenberger said he had contacted three to four contractors and they all said they were either too busy or backed up on work to take on the project.

A motion was made to vote on passing the project off to Smith's Lakeside Excavation Company. Smith said he would abstain from the vote due to his involvement with Lakeside. The motion passed unanimously with his abstention.

One condition of the motion for Lakeside was that the project for the fire hydrant would not exceed $5,000. The timeframe for when the fire hydrant is to be installed and how long it would take, is unknown at this time.

Board members Kallenberger and Chelby Gooch talked a fair convention they attended in Utah earlier this month.

"I totally, highly suggest you all mark your calendars down Nov. 13 through the 17th to go to Utah," Gooch said. "They weren't lying. If you haven't been to a convention, you have to go. That was so much information. I was like, 'This is a long convention,' but literally every day you learn something new."

Gooch shared one piece of information she said she found interesting.

"Seventy-five percent of all fair managers are women," she said. "I'm just saying."

A group of young group of people who attended the convention were all "under the age of 40, Gooch added, and "they just look at things way different than people our age."

Gooch said it would be a good idea to discuss having younger people go to the convention along with Great Northern Fair board members.

Gooch said they also learned about how to utilize Facebook for advertising. One of the pieces of advice they were told by a speaker was to never pay for advertising on Facebook.

Havre Daily News/Ryan Berry

The grounds of the Great Northern Fair are in need of repair Monday, November 19, 2018 in Havre, Mont.

Members of other fair boards at the convention offered some advice as well. Kallenberger said the fair board from Sidney said they had completed renovations on the bathrooms of their fairgrounds.

Bathrooms were one of the items the Great Northern Fair Board noted as something that needs to be addressed. The delegates from Sidney said their bathroom remodeling cost them around $1.8 million and included showers and handicap access.

"He said any time you talk dollars to begin building it, he says 'You're in the millions of dollars,'" Kallenberger said.

Gooch said they were looking into adding different kinds of entertainment at the fairgrounds. She added she spoke with the fair manager from Shelby about working together to get an act to come through the two towns, but nothing was confirmed.


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