By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of two articles pertaining to a work session Tuesday conducted by the Seward County Commission regarding the discussion of the activity center director position as it relates to the community and the Seward County Fair. A future article will discuss the commission and the fair board’s response to commissioner Jim Rice’s proposal.
Following the recent resignation of Seward County Activity Center Director Janet Lewis, the county is now faced with the task of addressing the needs of its fairground facilities.
The county commission and fair board looked at some of what needs to be done Tuesday during a work session.
Commissioner Jim Rice began by making a statement of what he believes needs to be done. He said thus far, no attempt has been made to replace Lewis.
“Something we might want to do this evening is select an interim director until we decide what we want to do,” he said.
Rice said this is an opportunity for the county to begin a new unified effort to improve the fairgrounds.
“All entities should work together, including the maintenance, the fair board, the Extension office, Activity Center, the administrator, the commission and the community,” he said. “I’ve talked with many individuals over the past two weeks from receiving phone calls to passing conversations. I’ve heard a variety of concerns, complaints and questions.”
Rice said he did not wish to go into those issues during the work session, instead offering an idea of selecting individuals to coordinate activities and events throughout the year at the fairgrounds.
“The main objective would be to promote and rent the Activity Center and the other fairground facilities and care for the needs of those renting our facilities much like the present,” he said. “A well-maintained ground is very important as well. It is additionally important that we work to secure a new community event if possible and feasible.”
Rice said the individuals could offer more flexible scheduling, including weekends off, for county staff.
“They could also assist with a host of duties needed by the fair board and the Extension office in relation to planning and presenting the annual county fair,” he said. “It should be the responsibility of the coordinator or coordinators to designate staff for certain duties to insure the assistance as required by the fair board or Extension as time permits.”
Rice said the fair board and the Extension should make their requests directly to the coordinators for their consideration.
“It is important that we all work in conjunction with the maintenance director to identify and report potential problems or offer suggestions for facility improvement,” he said. “I believe the maintenance department should be in charge of all the maintenance at the fairgrounds facilities. As for cleaning, setting up, tearing down – those duties can be determined on an as-needed basis between the departments.”
Rice offered the names of county maintenance director Delbert Stebens and Activity Center employee Linda Johnson, saying they are well qualified to provide the services immediately and could serve as co-coordinators for the county fair should the commission deem it necessary.
“They have each have extensive knowledge of all the activities and the maintenance issues at the facility,” Rice said. “They are both very dedicated and proud employees with a can-do attitude. In addition, they each have staff very capable of handling most any issue they may face.”
Rice said he is more than willing to let either Stebens or Johnson – or both – work together with the fair board, Extension office and county administration for a trial period.
“I believe we have a very capable staff that is more than willing to step up if necessary if we show our support,” he said. “Should we decide this is the way we want to proceed, I believe it is important to meet directly with all individuals involved, including the maintenance staff and Extension office and fair board, explain our decision and offer our encouragement and our assistance.”