Rachel Fraley, OSU 4-H Extension Educator, and Randy Lambert, Lawrence County Fair Council Chair, speak to members of the 4-H Programs and Junior Fair Council ahead of Monday’s meeting at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds in Rome Township. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

County commission used COVID-19 funding to repay loan

ROME TOWNSHIP — The Lawrence County Fair Board made a special announcement for its regular meeting on Monday when it was revealed that the loan on its main barn had been fully repaid by the county board.

“It’s a big day for us,” said Chris Collier, vice chairman of the fair’s board of directors.

Fair Board Chairman Randy Lambert said commissioners decided to use $175,000 of COVID-19 relief funds left with the county to repay the loan.

The barn, built in 2012, will be available for three years to the community through the award, Lambert said.

“The idea was to provide nonprofit and community groups with a meeting place with spacing,” he said.

Lambert said that while the restrictions are no longer in place, should they become necessary again due to a new strain of the COVID-19 virus, the barn’s atmosphere and open-air space would allow for events. .

“In case these restrictions come back in the future,” he said.

Lambert said there are already community events planned for the fairgrounds, such as three Easter egg hunts by nonprofit groups, as well as an employee retreat for the Lawrence County OAC.

In addition, he said there will be food distribution events from a local food bank, 4-H meetings and the annual Lawrence County Seniors Day at the fairgrounds.

Lambert said the commission’s decision came at an opportune time because pledges for the barn were nearly exhausted.

Members of the Lawrence County Fair Board, Junior Fair Board and 4-H members listen to the Fair Board meeting on Monday. Fair Board Chairman Randy Lambert announced that their main barn was paid for with COVID-19 funds by the Lawrence County Commission. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

“It’s a win-win situation for the community, having the land paid for and having a facility available to the community,” he said.

Lawrence County Commissioner Freddie Hayes Jr. said all three commissioners voted to win over the barn.

“And that will give us somewhere, if we have an emergency and need social distancing,” he said.

Lambert said the county must spend the COVID-19 funding or return it to the federal government.

“And that guarantees it was spent in Lawrence County,” he said. “We appreciate the commissioners for coming up with the idea.”

Also at the meeting, Lambert discussed plans for this year’s fair, scheduled for July 9-16. He said the schedule has been finalized.

“Everything is ready to go,” he said.

Lambert said that in addition to regular entertainment such as tractor pulls and music, the fair will have a petting zoo, laser tag games for six of the fair days and will also see the return of the Dino-ROAR! show, which proved popular last year and is said to have a larger facility for its audience.