Ag association should split from X-Plex committee

To the editor:

In an obvious change in strategy, the Hancock County Exposition Complex Corporation (HCECC) has apparently decided to let the 4-H ag association make its case for them and do all their talking.

Also, instead of continuing to play up the X-Plex and the other things that are supposedly planned for the county farm, it seems they have shifted their focus back to promoting the new fairgrounds.

The recent rain-outs of the 4-H horse and pony events this year are also being used to underscore the need for a new covered and enclosed horse arena and new fairground (See Daily Reporter, July 30 and Aug. 4).

When it was recently decided to move the Hancock County 4-H horse and pony events to the Henry County Saddle Club facilities in New Castle because of the rain-outs, the 4-H ag association and HCECC made sure it got plenty of front-page print in the Reporter.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the change in the HCECC focus and strategy. They have finally recognized what others have been telling them from the very start. That is, just because some very vocal and influential people and community groups claim that it will benefit the county to have a major convention and hospitality center doesn’t make it so.

The HCECC is finally beginning to realize that most of the Hancock community really isn’t that enthused with the idea, especially when they are told about the hefty price tag.

The HCECC, in leading with the fairground, hopes the public will overlook the rest of their ridiculous proposal.

Since the expanded development of the county farm site was the brainchild of the HCECC, one would have expected to see the HCECC president (Councilman Kent Fisk) or the vice president (Commissioner Tom Stevens) out front banging the drums and answering the questions from the public. Instead, the ag association representatives are the ones doing the sales pitch and taking the hits for not answering questions during their public presentations.

Whether the 4-H ag association representatives realize it or not, by them being out front all the time, many are beginning to think that the association has been the driving force behind the HCECC’s ridiculous and contentious plan for developing the county farm site.

The ironic thing is that the parts of the project are making matters contentious have nothing to do with the ag association or the new horse arena or new fairground. The association was in a great position to rally the community support it needed to get its requested equestrian facilities and even possibly a complete new fairground.

That was until the HCECC, Commissioner Stevens and Councilman Fisk hijacked the initiative and expanded it far beyond anything which is needed and could reasonably be expected to be supported by Hancock community members.

If the ag association leaders do not get their new covered horse arena with attached barn and new fairground, they have only themselves and their poor judgment to blame.

When the leaders chose to join in with the HCECC and allowed themselves to be used to promote the expanded initiative, rather than their initiative, they basically put the interests of the HCECC ahead of the best interests of their membership and the county taxpayers.

The ag association’s originally proposed project was one that could have been readily accomplished without any borrowing or increasing property taxes or adversely impacting taxpayers.

If by some stretch of the imagination the HCECC initiative passes, as far as I am concerned, the blame rests solely with the ag association, because without their support it would have been impossible for the HCECC to have pulled off this scam on county taxpayers.

The smartest and most honorable thing for the ag association to do at this point is to walk away from the HCECC and go it alone.

John Priore