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Fairgrounds receives $147,000 in grants for safety improvements

By Sean Hart

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published on April 22, 2016 4:14PM

USDA Rural Development announced Thursday it awarded a $40,200 grant to the Grant County Fair for reader boards and a PA system. From left, Judy Krutsinger, Blue Mountain Healthcare Foundation; Mindy Winegar, fair office assistant; Jim Hamsher, Grant County rodeo chair; Sally Bartlett, Grant County Economic Development director; Vicki Walker, USDA Rural Development state director; Mary Weaver, Grant County Fair manager; LaDonn McElligott, USDA Rural Development; and Chris Labhart, county commissioner.

The Eagle/Sean Hart

USDA Rural Development announced Thursday it awarded a $40,200 grant to the Grant County Fair for reader boards and a PA system. From left, Judy Krutsinger, Blue Mountain Healthcare Foundation; Mindy Winegar, fair office assistant; Jim Hamsher, Grant County rodeo chair; Sally Bartlett, Grant County Economic Development director; Vicki Walker, USDA Rural Development state director; Mary Weaver, Grant County Fair manager; LaDonn McElligott, USDA Rural Development; and Chris Labhart, county commissioner.

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The Grant County Fairgrounds will soon solicit bids for three electronic reader boards and a public address system, thanks to grants and local donations.

Fair Manager Mary Weaver said she was thankful for the contributions that will improve the safety of the facility. In five years on the job, she said she has received weather notices with no quick way to warn patrons on the 13-acre grounds. She said a child was also lost on the grounds.

“Safety for all our people and animals on grounds has become a real priority for us at the Grant County Fair,” she said. “What a difference a public address system could make in the safety of the many attendees.”

Weaver said local donations included $5,000 from the Grant County Family Heritage Foundation, $2,500 from Old West Federal Credit Union, $1,000 from Jack and Merlee Young and $500 from Bank of Eastern Oregon.

The Ford Family Foundation donated $51,800, Meyer Memorial Trust $40,000, Oregon Community Foundation $15,000 and the latest grant of $40,200 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development was announced by the state Director Vicki Walker during a visit to John Day Thursday.

Walker said the department was pleased to help improve the safety of the “longest-running annual county fair in Oregon.” She said fairgrounds are important for a variety of community activities in rural areas and the local contributions show “the collaboration and commitment of the folks here” to the facility.

“We’re so appreciative of all the organizations that put their time and effort into it,” she said.



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