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Exhibit hall likely to be destroyed

County meeting next week in Powell to discuss future

The Park County Fairgrounds’ Large Exhibit Hall will likely be demolished prior to the 2011 Park County Fair, county commissioners said Tuesday.

A Jan. 24 report from a county-hired engineer advised commissioners it probably would be better to replace the aging, failing building instead of spending an unknown amount of money trying to repair it. The hall, which houses general exhibits during the fair, has been closed to the public since a late January inspection revealed potentially unsafe structural failures. The Small Exhibit Hall, attached to west side of the Large Exhibit Hall, and hallways running between the two buildings have been found to be safe for use and remain open to the public.

At their Tuesday meeting, commissioners said razing the large exhibit hall would not jeopardize the fair’s opening or slate of activities.

The commission plans to meet with the county fair board at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15, at the fairgrounds’ multipurpose room to discuss the exhibit hall’s fate and future plans.

One of the big issues will be determining how to pay for a new building, as it’s a given that “something’s going to have to be done,” said Commission Chairman Bucky Hall.

Commissioner Dave Burke said the county also will need to figure out if the current location is the best place for a new multi-purpose building, and what a new building should be like.

In a later interview, Burke noted the building is well used. In addition to holding many exhibits during fair week, it also hosts many public events throughout the year, including serving as a polling place for many Powell precincts.

“We realize that the Park County Fairgrounds, the buildings and everything that goes on there is important to a large part of the residents of Park County,” said Burke.

Engineer Russell Taylor of Prospector Engineering Services in Powell inspected the building Jan. 20 and 21.

The exhibit hall’s roof is sagging, and Taylor observed three trusses that apparently failed and are cracked through.

He reported the eastern wall of the building was out of plumb by about six inches near the failed trusses and showed apparent damage from being hit by vehicles.

Taylor’s report advised the county to close the building — which it did — at least until a more thorough inspection could be performed.

“A sudden wind event could cause a full catastrophic failure of the roof system,” he wrote.

Taylor also said he feared the expense of further inspection might be “a case a pouring good money after bad,” wondering “how far chasing the repairs is going to lead.”

Taylor said he suspected it would be better to simply demolish the building and construct a replacement. He noted the large exhibit hall, the attached small exhibit hall and the nearby arts and crafts building originally were built during World War II as barracks for Heart Mountain Relocation Center internees.

“Considering the (large exhibit hall) building is near 70 years old and having been relocated at least once, it has really performed admirably well,” Taylor wrote, adding he believes it has “reached the age of retirement.”

The small exhibit hall and the arts and crafts building, while having sags in their roofs, did not appear to have any framing failures threatening safety, he said.

“While I do not think they necessitate any immediate replacement plans, they should be on the agenda for replacement in the near future,” Taylor wrote.

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7 comments

  • posted by PE

    February 23, 2011 11:40 am

    I agree, although it is unfortunate for those living near by, it is at its best location. It is an ideal central location for community events. And who wants to fund tearing down the whole thing? and worse yet find a new location and then fund rebuilding all of it. Not me.

  • posted by cjt

    February 15, 2011 10:45 pm

    There is no ideal location-somebody will always be negatively impacted. Many Powell businesses benefit from the fairgrounds being within city limits, not only during fair week but also when other events occur there. Sandora's suggestion re: booth space sounds great--a feasibility study/community and county input may reslut in other possibilities that could be inclued.

  • posted by Don Price

    February 11, 2011 8:57 am

    I agree that the fairgrounds needs to be moved out of town,this is not 1940 anymore.

  • posted by RB

    February 10, 2011 4:30 pm

    Typical Powell remark.I would love to move...plumb out of this hole if I could only win the lottery.But that will never happen as Wyoming can't see fit to come out of the dark ages and get a lottery going.

  • posted by Sandora

    February 10, 2011 2:11 pm

    Wow! Relocation Camp bunkers? Really? The Park County Fairgrounds needs a nice new exhibit hall. People come from all corners at fair time and we should have a facility we can be proud of. The restrooms at the fairgrounds need to be re-thought and the new hall should have booth space built into the outside perimeter of the building for additional vendors; so try to incorporate that into the plan and I say get started asap!

  • posted by michael

    February 10, 2011 11:03 am

    we have another whiner on the location of the fairgrounds. three sugestions. fund the reloacation of the fairgrounds yourself. move! call 1-800-wa.

  • posted by RB

    February 10, 2011 8:51 am

    The entire fairgrounds needs to be moved out of town as the carnivals and noise created by hot rods is very disturbing to folks who live near the fair.Not to mention the really bad problem of inconsiderate people parking in front,and behind of homes nearby,blocking access to our driveways and alleys.Instead of throwing money at this never ending problem,do it right and move it out of town.

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