Hillsboro council says no to county fair beer garden

Acting on the recommendation of the Police Chief Dan Kinning, the Hillsboro City Council at its April 18 meeting denied the request of the Marion County Fair Board to establish a beer garden as part of the fair’s demolition derby this summer.

Two members of the fair board, Brent Unruh and Brandi Barney, said at the council’s April 4 meeting that the beer garden would be a way to help fund the fair, a challenge they said has become increasingly difficult in recent years.

During their presentation, Unruh and Barney mentioned the plan had been endorsed by both the Marion County sheriff and Kinning.

The proposal was put on hold after City Admini­strator Larry Paine said he had gotten the impression from Deputy Chief Jessey Hiebert that Kinning did not endorse the idea. The proposal was tabled for clarification.

At the April 18 meeting, Paine released a written statement from Kinning as part of meeting agenda:

“I would not support allowing a beer garden at the county fair. We have spent several years trying to keep alcohol out of the fairgrounds, due to past problems with people who have been under the influence during fair events. It is my opinion that allowing the consumption of alcohol during the county fair would not only increase the problem, but would probably require more manpower to handle problems that occur off the fair property. I am not looking at this as a moral or money issue. The reality is the use of alcohol increases the odds of an increase in certain crimes such as DUI and disorderly conduct. I perceive any increase in crime as a threat to the community.”

Unruh reminded the council that the event would involve more law enforcement than the local police department, and that this a county fair, “not the Hillsboro fair.”

Council Bob Watson responded, “I appreciate the fair and you guys coming here, but if our chief of police doesn’t support it, I can’t vote for it.”

Barney asked, “Is there something else we can do (to raise funds)? We want to keep this fair going and not see it die out, unfortunately.”

Mayor Delores Dalke sympathized with the fair board’s funding challenge, acknowledge that “it must be getting tougher all the time.”

The council denied the board’s application for a beer garden by a 4-0 vote.

Museum repairs

Paine introduced Steve Fast as the newly appointed museum coordinator for the city. Paine said the coordinator is hired for 15 hours per week to lead tours and oversee facilities.

Paine said he, Fast and David Brown, museum board member, had traveled to Topeka at the end of March for a grant orientation for repair projects at the museums.

The description of the work includes five projects as well as cost estimates:

(1) Repairing siding, window and door trim, window sills, sashes, chimney and crown, gutter and down spouts and fence repair ($33,255);

(2) Installing 29 storm windows on the Adobe House and Barn ($9,584);

(3) Exterior painting of siding, trim, windows, fascia, soffits, bell tower, screens and doors ($15,690).

(4) Exterior stucco, interior plaster, repair cellar wall, sump pump ($11,200);

(5) Rewire and mount lights ($2,500).

Watson asked whether any local contractors had been invited to bid on the projects. Fast said an effort was made to find local contractors, but no bids were received.

The contracts for the five projects will be paid first by the city, then will be reimbursed by the State Historic Preservation Office based on an 80-20 percent split.

The council voted 4-0 to initiate the repair work with five different contractors.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• agreed to extend the city’s agreement with Salem Home to waive rent payments for use of its city-owned facility for another six months.

• approved the appointment of Pete Richert to the Hillsboro Housing Authority and Brenda Kimberly to the Library Board.

• called for two executive sessions, one regarding business and trade secrets, and the other regarding non-elected personnel. No action was taken when the public session resumed.

• heard Paine report that switching to LED street light bulbs in the downtown business district had reduced electrical consumption last month by more than 80 percent. At that rate, the cost of purchasing and installing the LED bulbs should be paid back in about 171⁄2 months.