Vienna city, fair board working together on $500,000 grant

By Colin Willard, Advocate Staff Writer
Posted 2/28/24

VIENNA — Maries County Fair Board Vice President Shelby Jones came to the Feb. 5 City of Vienna meeting to discuss working with the city to administer a grant the fair board received.

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Vienna city, fair board working together on $500,000 grant


VIENNA — Maries County Fair Board Vice President Shelby Jones came to the Feb. 5 City of Vienna meeting to discuss working with the city to administer a grant the fair board received.

Jones began by sharing the news that the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) had selected the fair board as the recipient of a $500,000 grant. The purpose of the grant is to improve facilities at the Maries County Fairgrounds.

The fair board must partner with a tax-funded entity to receive the grant, so Jones came to the meeting to present the idea of a partnership between the board and the city. She said the process would see the money go from MDA to the city. Then, the city would pass the money to the fair board.

South Ward Alderman Brenda Davis said she remembered the city sponsoring a grant for another organization in the past. She did not expect the process to cause any issues for the city.

Mayor Tim Schell brought attention to a clause in the documentation that said the city would be liable for any money from the grant that MDA deemed “inappropriate.”

Jones said the fair board has an eight-part plan that more than covers how the organization would spend the grant.

Schell asked if the grant allowed the fair board to keep any funds for upkeep.

Jones said the fair board must allocate the money by October, so it cannot hold onto any of the funds. Submitting reports to MDA would be the fair board’s responsibility.

Schell asked what the fair board plans to do with the grant.

Jones said one of the first goals is to redo the electrical wiring at the fairgrounds.

“We always struggle with the electrical out there, as I’m sure you all have seen with generators we have out there,” she said. “We’re trying to overcome that and expand the electricity out there, which is going to take a bit.”

Plans for the grant also include new seating in the arena and a more permanent pavilion and storage area with an office. Jones said a goal of the renovation is to make the space ready for other organizations to rent for events such as rodeos or tractor pulls. The fair board would also like to add another road to give trucks and trailers more room to enter and exit the fairgrounds.

Improvements to the electricity are a top priority. The second priority is the pavilion. Actions the fair board plans to take at the pavilion include making the building near the restrooms bigger to add a food stand and more space for storage. The board’s third priority is renovations to the bleachers.

Jones said she hoped the city’s involvement would give local people a firsthand look at how the fair board is trying to build up the community.

“I would really like to see us have a better relationship with the fair board,” Brenda Davis said. “I would like for our two agencies to work together for the betterment of the people of our community.”

“It only benefits both sides if we can agree to work together as much as possible,” South Ward Alderman Chuck Davis said.

“We definitely want to bring a lot of people into town, too,” Jones said. “That’s our main goal, too, to bring outsiders that wouldn’t traditionally come to the fair to come for that weekend.”

Brenda Davis agreed and said that when she was on the fair board, she advocated for the same goal of bringing people into the community for the fair.

“But people from outside the community aren’t going to come to our fairgrounds more than once if we don’t have appropriate seating, and we don’t have appropriate restrooms,” she said. “I for one am fully supportive of the city and the fair board working together to make that work.”

“Definitely,” Schell said.

Brenda Davis motioned for the aldermen to authorize Schell to sign a memorandum of agreement and return it to the aldermen at his earliest convenience. The motion passed unanimously. Davis estimated that it would take about two weeks to return the agreement to the fair board.

Jones thanked the city officials and left. They spent a few minutes reading through the documentation she gave them.

Brenda Davis said she appreciated how straightforwardly the fair board had shared their goals. She said her only concern was about part of the grant that requires repayment for any unapproved expenditure of funds because it did not specify that the fair board would have to pay the cost.

“I feel like it needs to be clear that if (the fair board) spends money on something they’re not supposed to and MDA won’t let them have money for it, they have to pay MDA the money back,” she said.

City Clerk Karen Dudenhoeffer said she could let the fair board know about the proposed change and, if they agreed to it, have the mayor sign it.