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Fair barn plans must be redesigned

ROME TOWNSHIP — It’s back to the drawing board as far as getting a new livestock barn and arena at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds.

“We had partial approval for the barn and did a soil test,” County Commissioner Freddie Hayes said. “We have real sandy ground up here in Rome Township.”

Now with the results of that soil test project architect Shawn Walker has to update the design to devise a building that can be erected on that type of ground.

“He will have to redo the plans to meet the criteria and put in more rebar,” Hayes said. “We are squirming.”

When Hayes learned about the soil test, he called a meeting Wednesday afternoon with the County Auditor Jason Stephens, Assistant Prosecutor Brigham Anderson and members of the fair board.

“We have run into issue after issue,” Hayes said. “We have hit a wall. It is really bothering me.”

One of the problems Hayes says is that the contractor for the project is headquartered out of the area.

“When we bid this out, we were wanting local people,” he said.

However there were no local contractors bidding on the project.

The plan to put up a new barn at the fairgrounds began at last year’s event when fair board members started soliciting pledges with the idea of borrowing money from local banks using the pledges for collatoral.

The number they sought and got in pledges was $400,000, which the board said would build to build a 300-by-60 foot livestock barn and arena. That was in July.

But when the project went out for bid in the fall only two companies — neither located in Lawrence County — submitted proposals. Both bids added an extra $200,000 to the project. At that time Hayes, who was then fair board president, said the project might be built in phases.

“The Amish could have built the barn (for $400,000), but where there were so many regulations through the state, they couldn’t get a bond,” Hayes said then.

A scaled-back version of the barn was put out to bid again.

“We modified it and sent it back to three people,” Hayes said at the time. “We went back and modified the building, changing a few things on it.”

Those three companies were Brenmar Construction of Jackson; Mullins of Portsmouth and Structural Steel of Canton. Structural Steel was awarded the contract.

“It makes it hard when they are up there and we are here,” the commissioner said after Wednesday’s meeting.

Construction was originally to start on Feb. 1; however that date was repeatedly pushed back, even after a spring groundbreaking.

“(We have) 43 days left to build this building,” Hayes said.

The fair board intends to take the revised plans to the state the first of the week to get them approved, the commissioner said.

“We are doing the best we can,” Hayes said.