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Motor sport events rev up use of county fairgrounds use

Lynn BurtonStaff Writer

Use and revenues jumped dramatically this summer at the Garfield County Fairgrounds.Motor sports led the field, followed by equestrian and educational events, according to Dale Hancock, operations director for the county government.His report on the fairgrounds came Tuesday during the regular meeting of the Garfield County commissioners.”Motor sports are our biggest draw, and they continue to grow,” Hancock said.The fairgrounds hosted four mud bog events, and the County Fair included a demolition derby, which boosted revenues, he said.Equestrian events kept pace with horseless carriage attractions. Hancock’s report showed that total attendance at 14 equestrian events this year was 2,602 people, or an average of 185 per show. Last year’s total was 1,655 people for an average of 122 per show at 13 events.Educational events increased from one in 2001 that attracted 25 people, to three in 2002 that attracted 387 participants.The fairgrounds hosted four auctions this year, down from five in 2001.Quality ratings from promoters who use the Rifle facilities are also up. Hancock said promoters asked to rate the facility on a scale of 1 to 5 gave the facility a rating of 4.8, compared to last year’s rating of 4.4.This year’s County Fair, held at the fairgrounds in August, marked an increase in profits to $13,572, compared to $9,675 in profits from the 2001 fair. Hancock attributed the gain to better control over expenses.Hancock said the Garfield County Fair Board will hold its first meeting for next year’s fair in December.New Social Servicesdirector namedOn Tuesday, the commissioners named Lynn Renick as Garfield County’s new social services director. Renick takes over from longtime director Margaret Long, who recently resigned in order to help run her family’s business.The commissioners asked Renick to continue researching a proposal for the county to offer paid child care for local government employees.”We have more questions than answers at this point,” Renick told the commissioners.Renick said she has already talked to Ninth Judicial District court staffers to gauge their interest in a child care program. The program could also be offered to parents working for the Roaring Fork School District and the city of Glenwood Springs.Renick stressed that child care wouldn’t be part of a county employee benefit package, and that users would be charged for it.County Commissioner Larry McCown drew a few chuckles when he asked whether child care would function as an enterprise fund, responsible for its own profits or losses, like the county landfill.”I realize that’s a poor comparison,” McCown quickly said.In other business at Tuesday’s county commissioners meeting:-Carbondale town manager John Hier presented an update on his town’s efforts to raise $8 million to $9 million to fund improvements to Highway 133 and the bridge that spans the Roaring Fork River at the intersection of Highway 82.Hier estimated Carbondale will probably come up $1 million to $2 million short, and asked for county to consider helping as it drafts the 2003 budget.”I recognize it’s not an obligation you have,” Hier said, “but we’re sort of behind the eight ball.”-Garfield County will join with nine other Western Slope counties to apply for a state grant to cope with bio-terrorism threats. Summit County is the lead county in the regional effort.-The county will apply for a $50,000 grant to cover half the costs to rewrite its subdivision regulations.-The commissioners extended the county-wide fire ban that has been in effect for most of the summer.-The county will review at the staff level a special use permit for an Emily Griffith School in Rifle, unless uses in the existing building change.


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