By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
The start of dirt work last week for a new expo building at the Chase County fairgrounds culminates more than three years of planning by the fair board.
County Commissioners Dave Hogsett, Chuck Vette and Don Weiss, Jr. accepted the low bid for the project March 10 and dirt work was underway by last Thursday.
Commissioners opened three bids for the 60 x 110 foot building. The low bid of $488,400 was submitted by the Rockwell Construction of Wray, Colo.,
Cleary Building Corp., of North Platte was the second lowest bidder at $506,431 with C&S Construction of Grant coming in at $588,300.
Fair Board President Chad Oxford said his board is excited to see the project moving forward.
The new building will be used for inside expo space during the fair and will be available for rental for events during other times of the year.
Oxford said the metal quonset building that has served as the expo hall will eventually be removed from the grounds. However, he anticipated the old building will be used again this year for expo space during this year’s fair.
Fair board members had hoped to have a building in place by last year’s fair.
They worked with a contractor on a design/build approach, which does not require a bidding process. However, the cost came in at more than $700,000.
Both the fair board and commissioners felt that cost was too much so the project was shelved for a year.
More affordable solution
At the suggestion of the commissioners, the board began working with the county’s engineer, Jeff Tidyman of Engineering International in McCook, to find a more affordable solution.
The board tweaked the initial design slightly and Tidyman developed specs so the project could be bid in time for a July 1 completion date.
The plans call for an open exhibit area of 60- by 90-feet with a warming kitchen, handicapped-accessible bathrooms and an office on the south end of the building. There will also be a storage deck above that area.
Oxford said the kitchen will be equipped with plenty of electrical outlets for catering equipment, refrigerators and a large commercial sink.
By not putting in stoves, they avoided having to install a costly exhaust and fire suppression hood. Instead, the building will be equipped with a sprinkler system.
Oxford said the interior of the building, which will be air conditioned, will have an open ceiling with steel sidewalls 10 feet high. The outer sidewalls of the building are 16.5 feet high.
The fair board will use proceeds from their benefactor program to pay the major cost of the building. The benefactor program is designed to help fund improvements to the grounds and the fair.
The county commissioners have agreed to loan the fair board the necessary balance to complete the project. The board will then repay the loan over time.
Koellner Enterprises of Imperial completed the dirt work for the building on Tuesday. Owner Greg Koellner said they moved in and compacted 850 yards of dirt.
The new building will be located on the northwest corner of the fair arena fence, just north of the women’s bathrooms across from the exhibit hall.