The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Backman: Fair should drop bull riding show


County Commissioner Mike Backman dropped a bomb at the end of Tuesday's meeting of the county board of commissioners when he asked colleague Dan Cothren to pass a motion ordering county fair personnel to stop raising funds for a planned bull riding program.

Fund raising hasn't reached goal, Backman said, and even though the county fair board voted to suspend fund raising and cancel the program for this year, some fair personnel, who are continuing fund raising efforts, are still planning to put on the program.

With the fund raising not reaching its goal, the county could be responsible for paying for the program, he said, and so the effort should be stopped immediately.

The issue wasn't on the board's agenda, and Cothren had no idea what the issues were. Backman sits on the fair board as an ex-officio representative of the county commission, and colleague Blair Brady was out of town and excused from the meeting.

After a heated discussion involving other county officials and fair board members, the two commissioners met in closed door executive session with Auditor Diane Tischer and Prosecuting Attorney Dan Bigelow to discuss complaints against an employee.

After reconvening in open session, they took no action.

Instead, Backman said the issue would be on the agenda for last night's (Wednesday) meeting of the fair board.

Before going into executive session, Cothren was reluctant to act.

The county commission has delegated authority over the fair to the fair board, he said, and that board has made its decision to stop the program because they haven't met fundraising goals.

"A few people have kept going," Backman said. "I want to make sure it's stopped. "The county will be on the hook if we don't stop it."

Cothren said he was concerned if the county is obligated (the county only funds the fair for maintenance and operations of grounds and facilities). The board called a recess, and Cothren visited Bigelow. After the visit, Cothren said the responsibility for the situation lies with fair personnel.

Fair volunteer Kay Walters was present and opposed Backman's recommendation.

Fund raising is proceeding; they've raised approximately $14,000 of the required $35,000.

Backman telephoned fair board President Philip Vik, and over speakerphone, Vik confirmed that the board voted to call off the event if fund raising hadn't reached $15,000 by June 1.

"Then that's where we're at," Cothren said. "The board voted against it and then it stops."

"We need to let the fair manager know," Backman said.

"There are channels for that," Cothren replied.


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