CANYON CITY - Sometimes the price of $89,000 is too much to pay. Case in point is the state grant the county recently received to help build a new shower and bathroom facility at the fairgrounds.

The County Court, the Heritage Foundation, the Fair Board and the John Day/ Canyon City Park and Recreation District came up with a plan for the project and through the county asked the state parks department for $165,000.

The state partially funded the request at $89,473, then "suggested," the court said, that the project be downsized, moved closer to the RV Park and that the state get its money's worth, which means the state figured the facility should last 25 years.

The project is expected to cost at least $220,000. The size of the grant means that for 37 percent of funding, the state wanted 100 percent of control, the group said; so the county plans to "respectfully decline" the money, with unanimous support of its partners in the project.

All-in-all, the state strings attached to the grant were not acceptable, the partners said.

"It is not in the best interests of all the people of Grant County to meet these conditions" and accept the money, the group said in a prepared statement.

Plans for the new facilities call for a 28-by-42 block building that will house two restrooms that will meet Americans With Disabilities Act requirements. For women, there will be four stalls, three sinks and three showers; the men will have three stalls, a urinal, three sinks and three showers. The building would be where the old small-animal barn stands, south of the Heritage Building.

The current facilities are adequate to handle about 350 people. Last year, there were 25,000 visitors to the fairgrounds for such events as the county fair (15,000 people), Sol West (2,100), demolition derby (1,000), BMW rally (680) and the high school rodeo (450).

The fairgrounds also hosts a fiddling contest, gun show, holiday bazaar, flea markets, quilt show, horse shows, highland games and weddings. The Forest Service also sets up training camps there, and when firefighters come into the area, the fairgrounds is a tent city.

Private donations to the Heritage Foundation for the new facilities reached $55,000, which will stay in a restricted fund until the rest of the money is raised. It was hoped the project would be done before this year's fair (Aug. 22-27), but it's been set back at least a couple of years.

"It'll get done," County Court Judge Dennis Reynolds said at the Court's meeting Jan. 25. "It'll just take a year or two longer."

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