LANE COUNTY FAIR BOARD
JOINT MEETING WITH BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
July 17, 2003
Present: Charles Warren, Tom Hunton, Dean Hansen, Bob Zagorin
Commissioners: Peter Sorensen, Bobby Green, Anna Morrison
Fair Board Staff: Warren Wong, Jean Duncan, Jeri Kaufman Lane County Staff: Teresa Wilson, Bill VanVactor, Dave Garnick
Guests: Kari Westlund, Bo Freeman
CALL TO ORDER:
The meeting was called to order at 11:45 a.m. by Fair Board President Charles Warren.
There was none.
FAIR BOARD - WELCOME AND REPORTS:
Mr. Warren opened the meeting by welcoming the Commissioners. He reviewed some of the challenges that the Fair Board had faced the last year, which included: Public employee benefits dilemma, environmental problem regarding animal waste runoff (stormwater), Planetarium, management change, 9/11 economic impact, E coli breakout at last year's fair. He stated that the Fair Board was very fortunate to have an outstanding staff to work with.
President Warren summarized the Business Plan with the Commissioners. He commented that it was fairly conservative. In summary he reported that the Fair Board is holding up on future projects; they are completing what projects have been started; stabilizing the financial situation; maximizing the current venues. Mr. Warren reported that all construction projects have been completed. The Fair Board is utilizing all of Mr. Wong's expertise in the financial arena to get the Fair Board back on track.
President Warren reported that in the area of Operations, Mr. Wong and staff have done everything they can to meet the financial challenges of the last year. They have done a lot of privatization, energy conservation measures, staff reduction, as well as freezing of salaries for the last three years. They have lost a number of events due to economic status. Ice projections are down. The Ice Center will not break even this year, which it usually breaks even or makes a profit. Ice Arenas are down almost 30% over the country. President Warren reported that he does expect it to be in the black this year. They will do everything to continue to stay there, but we are a business and are subject to the same conditions as other businesses.
President Warren reported on Capital Improvements at the Fairgrounds. He stated that last year's two projects (stormwater connector and the re-roof of the Convention Center) have been completed. This year's project is the re-roof of the Expo Halls. Staff is also looking at replacing some outdated equipment this fiscal year.
President Warren commented on the Handout of the Invitation for Senior Social which was presented to all of the Commissioners. They were encouraged to attend on Senior Day of Fair and to help serve during the Social event.
Mr. Zagorin spoke on the Partnership/Working Relationship with CVALCO. He stated that the relationship is good and they are working on making it better. The challenge over the years has been to quantify the room nights. Ms. Westlund, CVALCO Executive Director, shared on what the industry is doing, but what still needs to be done to come up with a reporting method of the impact of events that come to the county. Mr. Zagorin commented that he was hopeful that the Commissioners would take a lead role in coordinating the development of the "big picture" where the fairground is concerned. Ms. Westlund commented that she appreciates the working relationship with fairgrounds staff. She is also concerned about the role the Fairgrounds plays with some key pieces of other things going on in the community.
Mr. Hansen reported on the 2003 Fair, as well as E coli Preparation and Planning. Sales of concerts are ahead of last year. He reiterated the invitation to the dessert social to the Commissioners.
Mr. Hansen stated that he felt staff has done a great job mitigating the E coli incident at the 2002 Lane County Fair. He reported that staff is turning it into an educational opportunity. There have been major discussions on how to approach the venues according to signage. There is a push for handwashing and elimination of food and drink in the animal venues. The Black Sheep Gathering was in June which was a dry run on how the fair will go. Commissioner Green suggested having disposable gloves available. He stated that is an inexpensive way to show we are going the extra miles. Mr. Wong commented that there is a concern on the use of the disposable gloves if ingested by the animals. On the whole, the Black Sheep Gathering event was very successful. The organizers and exhibitors were extremely cooperative.
Discussion ensued regarding Lane Manual Section 3.160. President Warren commented that the purpose of putting it on the agenda was recognizing one of the reason the Fair Board has a good relationship with the Commissioners is that good fences make good neighbors. Mr. VanVactor commented that the long term policy objective is to clearly delineate who is responsible for what in this section of the Manual. President Warren commented that he is very comfortable with the relationship between the Fair Board and the Commissioners. He did comment that he was concerned that there are no term limits for Fair Board members in the Memorandum of Understanding. The Fair Board feels that there should be a two term limit for Fair Board members and that it should be enforced. Ms. Wilson commented that it could easily be added as a paragraph to the Memorandum setting a two term limit. President Warren commented that the Fair Board will discuss the change to the Memorandum at their next meeting and will get back to the Commissioners as to whether or not they wanted to make that amendment to the Memorandum of Understanding between the two entities.
Future of Fairgrounds/Class A Conference Facility:
President Warren read excerpts from a Memorandum to the Commissioners dated April 22, 2003. President Warren reiterated that somewhere down the road, another major renovation of the facility will be necessary. The fairgrounds are a Class B facility and they serve that market. There is always the threat of constraints on the facility, specifically in elimination of animals.
Mr. Zagorin commented that there is a real synergy at the fairgrounds the way they are right now. He doesn't see it working as well if we start breaking up the pieces. In terms of regional strategy and the role that the two groups should play, looking out to the future we know that we need a Class A regional convention center somewhere in the metro that has a hotel as part of the facility that can hold the larger shows that can our people can go out and market and bring to the community. He stated that he would like to see the County take a lead role in accomplishing that, to bring a public/private partnership together.
Commissioners Morrison agreed with the Class A facility need. She stated that if we do that, what do we do with the Fair? Do we walk away from it? Those are conversations that need to take place in detail. Commissioner Green agreed and stated that today is not the day to get knee deep in that conversation. He stated the need to reschedule a meeting to be able to talk more in depth on the subject, which would include what do we want the fairgrounds to be and do in the future. We need to have more stakeholders at the table. He reiterated that he is supportive of having a full discussion at a later date.
Commissioner Sorenson stated that he thinks the economic development issues facing the community are crucial. He said that we should get representatives from the Fair Board, the County Commissioners, CVALCO, Eugene, Springfield and the University of Oregon, and those are the major stakeholders for this discussion. If we could pull that group together and get them to buy in or out of the idea. Build around the great attributes of the community. Mr. Zagorin commented on the need to figure out how to get that started now and not wait a year or two. Commissioner Morrison added that the Chambers of Commerce should be added to that list.
Tour of the 411/FFA Fair:
Mr. Hunton introduced Bo Freeman and Reynolds Gardner with the 4H Fair to give an overview of the 4H Fair and the tour that the Commissioners and Fair Board members will take directly after the conclusion of this meeting. Mr. Reynolds represents the FFA portion of the 4H program. Creswell FFA eliminated all elective programs within their school, which included the FFA program. Discussion ensued regarding the effects of budget cuts on their program.
There being no further business to come before the Boards, the meeting was adjourned and the members joined in a tour of the 4H Fair on the grounds.
Charles E. Warren, Fair Board President