Candidate supports fairgrounds project — within reason

To the editor:

Why is it, if you have a view different from somebody else’s, it’s always you who is described as being negative?

According to Darrin Couch’s letter to the editor, which appeared in the April 2 edition of the Reporter, there are supposedly candidates running in this year’s primary race who are opposed to renovating the current fairground or constructing a new one. Once again, we have Mr. Couch and the Hancock County Exposition Complex Corporation (HCECC) playing word games and misrepresenting the facts.

During the debates, I have heard only one candidate indicate a position that could be remotely construed as being against a renovated or new fairground, and even he wasn’t against it. He indicated that he preferred that tax revenues not be used. He then softened his position, indicating that he would be open to considering using food and beverage taxes.

Unlike Mr. Couch, councilmen Fisk, Shelby and Bolander and Commissioner Stevens and the other members of the HCECC, most candidates in this year’s primary are open-minded about the subject. Most, however, indicated a preference for a reasonable and affordable plan.

Several candidates expressed a desire to have the venture overseen directly by county officials who are answerable to the people and subject to Indiana’s open meeting laws, rather than not a private corporation like the HCECC if taxpayer funding is involved in any way.

The only candidate I have heard willing to sign a contract with a private corporation was Matt Holland, and he failed to stipulate the terms and conditions of the contract. Until I hear how he plans to pull that off, I am adamantly opposed to any “deals” with a private corporation. They never end well for the taxpayers.

Mr. Couch and the HCECC are not interested in a consensus resolution of the fairground issue. I do not think that Mr. Couch is even talking about a fairground at this point. I think he and the HCECC are still insisting on their original Taj Mahal plan, and they want the rest of us to pay the cost.

My position on the fairground was somewhat misstated in a previous Reporter article. So let me clarify it: to start off with, the HCECC is out. They are the cause of all the problems and misunderstandings surrounding this issue.

In no way do they have a meaningful role in the solution. I generally support either reasonable renovations and capital improvements to the current fairground or a new fairground if that is what is ultimately determined to be needed.

When it gets down to the details as to design, who builds it, how we pay for it and who subsequently operates and maintains it, I am willing to wait and weigh in on those issues at the appropriate time after the commissioners have had their long overdue open meetings with the 4-H Ag Association, 4-H Club Leaders and the Purdue Cooperative Extension Services 4-H director.

Don’t worry, councilmen Shelby, Bolander and Fisk. You will have your turn when the matter comes before the council. Whose best interests do you intend to represent? Will you represent the people of Hancock County or will you continue to be the voice of the HCECC?

John Priore

Member Blue River Township Board