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New horse arena planned for Wright County fairgrounds

February 25, 2008

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

The Wright County Board gave its support to the Wright County Fair board’s proposal for a new horse facility during today’s county board meeting.

The plan includes construction of a new, larger arena and a 100-foot-diameter round warm-up pen, and replacing the wooden fence with metal panels.

Ron Denn, horse superintendent for the Wright County Agricultural Society, said the existing arena is in poor condition, and needs to be replaced.

“The horse population in Minnesota and Wright County is increasing, and the existing arena cannot meet the current demands,” Denn said.

The new facility will serve the needs of the county’s growing equine population, and will provide opportunities for 4-H and other groups, according to Denn.

The fair board has budgeted the estimated $35,549 cost of the project, and is not asking for additional funds from the county, Denn said.

The fair board received three quotes for the project, and accepted the lowest quote, which was received from The Country Store in Howard Lake.

Denn provided information stating that the 2002 USDA census of agriculture indicated that there were 14,289 horse and pony farms in Minnesota, an increase of 80 percent from the 1997 census.

The Wright County 4-H horse program is the fourth largest in the state, with a quarter of the group’s 531 members interested in horse programs, according to 4-H Program Coordinator Katie Zintek.

Transportation funding bill discussed

After some modifications, the board approve a resolution in support of comprehensive road and transit funding.

“All counties are being asked to support this resolution,” County Engineer Wayne Fingalson said.

Some board members expressed dissatisfaction with the wording of the proposed resolution.

“I wouldn’t mind if it just said ‘we need more transportation funding,’ instead of this laundry list of items,” Commissioner Pat Sawatzke said, referring to a section of the resolution that listed revenue sources, including:

• an increase in the gas tax;

• indexing of the gas tax to the consumer price index;

• increases in vehicle registration taxes;

• trunk highway bonding;

• general obligation bonding for local roads and bridges;

• one-half percent increase in the state sales tax for the metropolitan area;

• one-half percent local option sales tax for transportation in greater Minnesota;

• a county option wheelage tax; and

• a change in the county state aid highway formula.

After discussion, the board approved the resolution, but deleted the section listing specific potential funding sources.

“They (the legislature) have to stop spending someplace. They are living in a dream world,” Commissioner Dick Mattson commented.

Odds and ends

In other business, the board:

• appointed Commissioner Karla Heeter as the board representative on the county’s hazard mitigation steering committee.

• approved adding a second intern for the University of Minnesota Extension Program, using salary savings from an employee who will be taking maternity leave.

• approved a $6,826 claim from Frank Madden and Associates for legal services in January.

• approved a change order to the jail/law enforcement center project to add additional support for day room stairs at a cost of $44,525.

• heard that three bids were received for a voice and data system for the jail/law enforcement center. The board will hear a recommendation regarding the proposals during its Tuesday, Feb. 26 meeting.

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