Commissioner John Riebel, Irene Kostreba and Roger Kostreba at a county workshop last week.

County fair's future to be reviewed

Staff Writer
Ken Francis


Discussions will soon begin again about the future home of the Sherburne County Fair.
Tuesday, the board of commissioners approved the establishment of a committee that will look at the existing site in Elk River and determine whether it will continue to serve as the county fairgrounds.
The issue came up last week at a commissioners’ workshop. Fair Board Members Roger and Irene Kostreba were at the workshop to discuss whether or not it was feasible to add another building at the site. The current lease for the fairgrounds between the county and the Agricultural Society expires in 2016, at which point the parties could either extend the lease or decide it was time to move the home of the fair. The county already has land in Becker donated by Bill and Margaret Cox specifically for the fairgrounds.
Irene Kostreba said she was looking to construct a building on the Elk River site to house a Sherburne County Fair History Center. The wood-frame building would be paid for using a $10,700 grant. The grant application is due in February, 2014. But after contacting Lynn George about the building and the lease, she was told it would be better to talk with the commissioners.
“It would be a Sherburne County Fair History Center, like Benton County has where people would come in and read the history of the fair,” she said. “But I was told I shouldn’t be putting up a building because the lease is up so soon.”
Sherburne County Attorney Kathleen Heaney said there was a bigger issue involved than just adding a building. Decisions had to be made about whether the fair would still be at the Elk River site after the lease expired. But those decisions would have to be made by the county board.
“If you’re going to be putting up bricks and mortar, presumably you want more than a couple of years,” said Heaney.  “Should this land continue to be used for the fairgrounds? and how long?” 
She said it was too important an issue to have county staff make those decisions.
Commissioner Felix Schmiesing said he remembered the discussions the board had years ago about relocating the fair to Becker. There were even site plan drawings. But at the time there was no money to pay for new buildings. Nor was there a consensus about the move.
“At that point I was not really in support of moving the fair to Becker because I felt that if you’re going to be moving an entity like the fair, you need to have a business plan,” he said. “And I think you need to have a business plan here, where you can lay something in front of us and we can understand how you can sustain yourself for five years, seven years or whatever it might be.”
Heaney suggested putting together a committee of stakeholders to look at the future of the fair, the lease and the existing site.
Tuesday, after a brief discussion, the county board decided who those stakeholders should be.
Representing the county will be Commissioners John Riebel and Bruce Anderson and Administrator Steve Taylor. The committee will also include two individuals from the Elk River City Council, two members from the agricultural society and one representative each from Commissioner Dist. 4, the Sherburne County Fair Board, 4-H, Elk River Chamber of Commerce, and the city/township of Becker.
  The board also approved a request by the administrator directing the county surveyor to survey the fairgrounds and create an updated legal description of the property.
Zoning Grants
The board approved a request by the zoning department to appoint Zoning Administrator Nancy Riddle as an authorized representative to sign the 2014 and 2015 Natural Resources Block Grant Agreement.
Under the agreement, the zoning department will receive $31,599 for the administration of the Wetland Conservation Act, $4,872 for shoreland management and enforcement, $18,600 for the sub-surface sewage treatment (SSTS) program operations and education, and $8,094 for the Comprehensive Local Water Management program.
Other Business
In other action the board:
* Passed a resolution to acquire parcels along parts of Co. Rd. 4 by condemnation, if necessary;
* Approved the final contract payment of $34,994.98 to AAA Striping Services for pavement marking on county roads;
* Approved a memorandum of understanding between Anoka, Dakota and Sherburne counties for OnBase Document Imaging Community Supervision Tracking System (CSTS) Integration.


SHERBURNE COUNTY FAIR BOARD MEMBER Irene Kostreba, pictured here showing a very old poster advertising a Sherwin Linton concert, is still looking for items to display in the county fair history center. Items could be given on loan or donated to the fair board. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

FRESH FLAME BURGER serves up fast food with its own flair on Hwy. 10 in Big Lake. Clara Henderson, Kari Luckey and Jamall Whitelaw ordered their food to go from restaurant owner Gus Afrooz. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

SHERBURNE COUNTY 4-H’ers got some hands-on experience working at the 4-H foodstand at the fairgrounds Wednesday evening in preparation for the Sherburne County Fair, which starts Wednesday. About 60 kids from six different 4-H clubs learned how to grill burgers, cook fries and hot dogs and serve customers during the orientation event. Above are Big Lakers Katie Olson (left), Kirsten Olson and Taylor Muehlbauer cooking fries and Bailey Muehlbauer (right) getting hamburger buns ready. (Photo by Ken Francis.)

GRAND KNIGHT DENNIS NAGORSKI of the Knights of Columbus presented Big Lake Chief of Police Joel Scharf and Becker Chief of Police Brent Baloun with a donation of prescription drug drop-boxes for each city. Along with marijuana, prescription drugs are often abused because of easy access. Keeping them out of the water system is important to protect the environment. Now our residents have a safe way to dispose of their unwanted or out-dated medications. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).