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Budget items approved by county commissioners: County fair receives $15,000

The Douglas County Board approved a $15,000 appropriation to the Douglas County Agriculture Association, which runs the county fair, at its budget meeting Tuesday afternoon. Along with the ag association, commissioners approved several other appropriations at the Tuesday meeting.

Prior to the vote, the vice president of the fair board, Brad Brejcha, updated the commissioners. He called the 2018 county fair very successful and said it exceeded 50,000 in attendance in its four-day run.

Changes to the fair this year, Brejcha said, included spending more on entertainment. The fair board spent more than $20,000 for entertainment in 2018, with $5,000 spent on the logging show and $4,500 on the Saturday night band, Tripwire.

Brejcha also noted that 98 percent of funding to run the fair comes from ticket sales and vendor fees. Only 2 percent comes from county funding, which he said the fair board appreciates.

The subject of providing a free fair came up and Brejcha said that in order to not charge admission fees, it would cost the ag association roughly $105,000.

"You don't just have a free fair," he said. "We want to put on a good fair and part of our challenge is wanting good entertainment and for people to get their money's worth."

Because there could be changes coming down the pike to the space where the fair is currently held, Brejcha said the ag association has been looking at options. But its goal is to keep the fair where it's at.

Other budget approvals

Also during its budget meeting, the board approved the following items:

• To add one full-time position for the county's parks department. This was approved by a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Jerry Rapp and Owen Miller voted against it.

• To add a full-time road deputy.

• To create and fill a full-time secretary position in the road deputy budget and eliminate one full-time data entry clerk.

• To create and fill a full-time assistant communications/dispatch supervisor position and eliminate one full-time dispatcher.

• To create and fill a full-time jail program coordinator position and eliminate one half-time jail program coordinator.

• To create and fill an additional full-time strategic finance analyst and to backfill any positions due to internal promotion.

• Appropriation of $2,186 to the Osakis Economic Development Commission.

• Appropriation of $8,000 to the Lakes Area Humane Society.

• Appropriation of $4,200 to the Chippewa River Watershed.

In other action

Although it was not part of the agenda, the board voted 4-1 to allow commissioners to discuss an item before a motion is made to approve it.

Traditionally, all discussions take place after a motion is made and seconded, and before commissioners vote. However, Commissioner Keith Englund proposed allowing questions and discussion before someone makes a motion.

All but one commissioner agreed and said it made sense to talk about a subject before making a motion.

Miller, the chairman, voted against it.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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