Dirt work starts on new fairgrounds project

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Dirt work has started on the $15.2 million Canadian County Fairgrounds’ project. A late summer 2021 completion is projected. (Image provided)

By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer

Dirt work is underway on the $15.2 million Canadian County Fairgrounds’ project with a late summer 2021 completion planned.

Canadian County Commissioners, convening Monday as the Canadian County Public Facilities Authority, provided updates on the construction progress.

The new county fairgrounds’ complex is being built on a 50-acre site at Jensen and Alfadale roads near El Reno.

The maximum guaranteed price is $14,257,674 for the expo center arena, maintenance building, site work, and parking. Max price is $984,458 for the stall barn.

Jacob Lingo, of the construction management firm Lingo Construction, said the building pad for the main arena would begin Monday. Site grading will be done along with pads for the maintenance building and stall barn, he added.

Grading will start on the northeast side of the site, proceeding northeast to southwest.

CCPFA Trustee David Anderson said the county received the building permit last week so construction could get underway.

Foundation work is set to start during the third week in June, the District 2 commissioner added.

The project is on schedule and going full speed ahead, according to Anderson.

He expects the project to be finished by late summer 2021. Some county officials want that year’s Canadian County Fair in August to be at the new facilities.

Lingo Construction is overseeing several dozen subcontractors that will build the new arena, stall barn and other buildings.

Bids for 31 construction trade packages were recently awarded, with the total cost about $900,000 below a December 2019 cost estimate of $16.1 million.

Meanwhile, CCPFA trustees on Monday approved a construction performance bond for the fairgrounds’ project.

“It’s important we have the work bonded,” Anderson said.

As construction manager, Lingo is required to bond the project. State law provides that any subcontractor whose portion is above $50,000 must provide a bond for their work.

Canadian County will see a $57,763 savings because Lingo will only bond those portions that fall under that statutory limit, Anderson noted.

CCPFA members also have approved an agreement between project engineer Populous and the Canadian County Water Authority for a water service redesign at the new fairgrounds’ site.

The City of El Reno had been asked to help Banner’s rural water district provide water, but Trustee Jack Stewart said the city wanted to annex the property from Canadian County.

So, county officials are working with the authority on a plan to install adequate lines to supply water; a proposal has been made to the state fire marshal.

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THROUGH USE TAX, NOT PUBLIC VOTE

The Canadian County Fairgrounds’ project is being funded through use tax collections and not from a public election.

“The fairgrounds and fair board are statutory functions of county government,” CCPFA Trust Chairman Marc Hader said after Monday’s meeting. “Our current fairgrounds haven’t been touched since the late ‘50s or 1960s.

“For a county of our size, somebody should have pushed this (new fairgrounds) effort forward 30 years ago. We’re stepping up to make sure our county has the kind of quality facility it deserves.”

The revenue stream to fund this construction was “not obligated to any existing function” of Canadian County government, Trustee Anderson noted.

Use tax is a “fairly new” revenue source for Canadian County, he added.

“The fairgrounds’ improvement is going to be constructed and paid by a tax that was not committed to any other function of county government,” Anderson said.

“So, we didn’t have to cut back on something to build it.”

Use tax is a tax on goods purchased in another state for use in the taxing state, in lieu of local sales tax. Use tax applies to purchases made outside the taxing jurisdiction but used within the state.

“What we’ve tried to do is never get in a position where it would take more than 60 percent of what we expect to receive (from the use tax) to debt service the fairgrounds,” Anderson explained.

“Our use tax generated $2 million last year and, once we get our fairgrounds fully built out, our debt service is going to be about $900,000 a year. As long as we’re receiving over about $80,000 a month, we’ll be able to debt service.”

Canadian County’s monthly use tax disbursements have ranged between $118,278 to $166,738 over the past seven months.