County denies fair board’s key request

By Dave Gragg

Recent changes in the Quay County Fairgrounds have not set well with the Quay County Fair Board.
Representatives of the board, including President Tommy Thompson and Vice President Eric Rusk, asked the Quay County Commission to provide the board with a key to the fairgrounds.
County officials recently changed the locks on the fairgrounds saying too many people had access.
Currently, only County Manager Paula Chacon and fairgrounds caretaker Dan Wright have a key.
Chacon said the fairboard is welcome to check out the key from her office at any time without a deadline for returning it, but they could not have a key of their own.
“This is nothing personal, we want to keep track of the keys,” she said. “We’re not going to let anyone run around with the key.”
Fair board members said it was handy to have a key so they could do odd jobs while they had time to fix up the fair grounds before the Quay County Fair.
Thompson delivered a letter from the fair board that listed some of the work the board volunteers have done for the Quay County Fair, with no expectation of return.
“Our sheer satisfaction … lies within providing life-building experiences for the youth of Quay County,” the letter read.
Later in the letter, it reads: “Despite our efforts, it looks as if the county manager and commissioners deem we are of no use to them anymore. The many years and countless hours the fair board members have dedicated to the fairgrounds seems to have gone unnoticed. …
“We realize the simple act of having to check out a key may seem at the very least a minor inconvenience. However, we view the requirement as more of a lack of respect for the fair board, its members, and all that we have done.”
Thompson said the letter was a toned-down version of the original draft. He also asked whether the rodeo team at Mesalands Community College had a key to the fairgrounds.
Thompson said he had to ask the question, because he would be asked about it at the next meeting of the fair board.
Chacon said the rodeo team had a key to the arena only, and only during the school year.
Along with renting the facility and paying utilities, the college built the stalls at the fairgrounds and allows other groups, such as 4-H, to use them during summer events.
“There are a couple of guys on the fair board who are anti-Mesalands, and that’s their prerogative, but we’re going to work with them,” Commissioner Franklin McCasland said.
The key imbroglio is the latest in a number of changes at the fairgrounds.
In the past, the fair board leased the fairgrounds from the county and had almost complete control. Although Chacon said she could not find that the lease had been renewed for at least six years, the fair board maintained control until recently.
“Underlying this is the severe changes as to how things had been done before this year,” Thompson said. “The fair board was responsible year-round for the facility. …
“We are relieved that is no longer our duty,” he said. The fair board can now concentrate on its main purpose: Putting on the annual Quay County Fair.
The fair board also used to choose its own members with no input from the commission.
The commission now approves the board every year to keep members covered by the county’s insurance.
The county has also begun charging for events at the fairgrounds and exhibition center to pay for maintenance on the equipment. That had not been done for a number of years.
In other business, the commission agreed to become the fiscal agent for the three county senior centers with nutrition programs: Tucumcari, Logan and House.
The governing bodies of those entities will now have to approve an arrangement with the county to run the facilities.