By Sarah Pridgeon
The County Commissioners made a surprise decision last week to replace the entire Crook County Fair Board. In response to complaints, perceived problems and the recent resignation of two board members, the commissioners opted to “remove the board and just start over,” said Commissioner Jim Hadley.
Treasurer Lee Jay and Board Member Andrea Wood recently handed in their resignations from the fair board. The remaining three members, Wayne Garman, Paul Brown and Sharon Campbell, were given an opportunity to respond to questions regarding their conduct during their regular monthly report to the commissioners.
“Is there a reason that no-one wants to work with you three?” asked Commissioner Jim Hadley. “This is now three members that have resigned.”
Garman, responding that he did not know the reason, speculated that part of the problem may stem from the board’s attempts to create an open and accountable atmosphere.
“In some cases, I guess maybe that’s backfired,” he said. “I think there are an awful lot of assumptions that are being made about things. If people would just come and ask, [they would find] we’re not bad people.”
According to Garman, previous members of the fair board do not support its most recent incarnation.
“When you guys put me on that board, I replaced God in their minds,” he explained. “They fought the fact that I was on there from the start and the same people that fought me then are the people coming to you and fighting now. The only difference being that they went from being fair board members to being members of the public.”
Commissioner Hadley referred to an email that the board sent to the commissioners in which they defended themselves from accusations made at April’s meeting by representatives from the Extension Office.
“We ask you to get along well with others, then we get an email where you’re defending yourselves. It’s like you have no desire to meet someone in the middle,” he commented.
Brown responded that the board has let issues go and fixed them as they came up throughout the year.
“I thought we did show how we’ve tried to meet people in the middle. We tried to work with these people,” she said. “We just wanted our side heard too.”
“I know there are two sides to every story and the truth is in the middle but I didn’t get that out of your email,” replied Hadley. “I just got that you were defending your spot.”
The commissioners questioned why board members had not mentioned issues that came up during meetings of the fair board to the commissioners. Garman replied that the board does not believe its monthly report is an opportunity to complain about small issues and Brown added that the board believed it their job to just deal with them.
“If you don’t have a fair shot from the start, you’re never going to get there, and that’s part of the problem,” said Garman.
FOR THE REST OF THE STORY PICK UP A COPY OF THIS WEEK’S SUNDANCE TIMES