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Stark County Park Board says 'yes' to $500K for bleachers

Press Photo by April Baumgarten Stark County Park Board members gave the Roughrider Commission $500,000 Tuesday during its meeting at the Courthouse to replace the bleachers at the Dickinson State University Outdoor Arena, pictured here Tuesday.

Stark County Park Board members were divided in giving the Roughrider Commission $500,000 from property sales by the board for bleachers Tuesday at the Courthouse in Dickinson. In the end four of six members said "yes" to the replacement.

The stands would be used during events such as the Roughrider Days Fair and Expo. The current bleachers present a safety hazard and the board wants to prevent injuries, board member Russ Hoff said after the meeting.

"The Roughrider Commission in my opinion is the Stark County Fair," board member Ken Zander said. "I haven't seen in 35 years any other fair activity, and I think the purpose of this money gathering is for the promotion of this fair."

Roughrider Commission past President Jeff Schiff told the board bleachers for the Roughrider Days Fair and Expo would cost $772,000. The board passed a motion to give the commission $500,000 with the condition that it gets the remaining funds from in-house or the city of Dickinson.

The county's insurance company will not cover the bleachers after this year, Chairman Arnie Binek said.

Hoff added Roughrider Days is very important to the city and county and the facility plays a big part of the event.

"There's a lot of other groups that use this facility like 4-H, all of the high schools," Zander said. "Some of these other groups don't have any funding mechanism."

Board members Jay Elkin and Pete Kuntz said no to the motion. Elkin said they should make a commitment but questioned if the board should fund more than half of the project.

"We do have the city, and we do have other mean of raising money," Elkin said. "We're not talking $50,000 and I don't feel like Santa Claus."

The board wants to get the bleacher on the Dickinson State University's Outdoor Arena next to the Badlands Activities Center before the Roughrider Days in 2013, but the commission must have an agreement with the college to make it work, Binek said.

"We're having troubles trying to get this all together with the problems they're dealing with," he said.

Elkin didn't want the board to own the bleachers, adding if DSU doesn't work out an agreement with the commission the cost to maintain and remove them will fall on the county.

The Roughrider Commission plans to meet with DSU President D.C. Coston Monday.