Council considers long term lease of building at Fairgrounds to Fair Association

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Salem City Council met in regular session on Thursday, Sept. 23 and a proposal was made regarding the Theater Building at the fairgrounds.

The theater building is used for beauty pageants, talent shows and for the Annual Fairgrounds Flea Market. The building contains both enclosed and open air space and has seating for 500. This building is currently owned by the City of Salem and is not available for rent from the Fair Association, unlike the Hickinbotham--Miller Exhibit Building, livestock barns and the arena which are available for rent from the Fair Association during the fair off-season.

Council member Ted York told the council that the Fair Association would be interested in a long-term lease with the city, if they are able to obtain a grant which would allow them to refurbish the building and install air conditioning.

"The Fair Association has shown interest in inquiring on a long term lease if they can get a grant to go in and refurbish the building, add air conditioning and all," said York. "They don't know that they can get it for sure, but they feel they have a good chance at getting it."

"Right now, we really don't use that for anything except two functions a year," said Mayor Gary Clayton. "Another point is the Fair Association has access to grants that aren't available to anyone else to be able to do what needs to be done to that building."

"They want to be able to rent it out; basically, do what they currently do with the Hickinbotham-Miller Exhibit Building," said York.

The council agreed to table the item until the October meeting, so council members would have time to give it some thought and make a more informed decision.

In department reports, Police Chief Albert Roork presented the Salem Police Report for the month of August.

"We had a total of five automobile accidents since the last report," said Roork. "We unlocked 21 vehicles, handled 67 complaints, looked into two criminal mischief calls, eight domestic disputes and three thefts."

Heath Everett presented the council with the Fire Department report for August.

"We made 12 runs in August: one structure fire, two electrical fires, four motor vehicle accidents, four grass fires and one trash fire," said Everett. "One of the grass fires was way out for us, near Saddle. It was pretty dry, and they had to evacuate people so we went up there and gave them a hand."

Bill Worsham then presented the August report for the Public Works department.

"We replaced 40 feet of line under Highway 9 north by the ball park, added 140 feet of two inch pipe in the Weathers addition, repaired four water leaks, replaced one meter box and replaced one angle valve in the water department," said Worsham. "In waste water we cleaned the drying beds and cleaned out 3,500 feet of line. At the park we mowed around the pool, civic center, main park area and at city hall. In the Street Department we picked up storm damage from the big wind the other night."

Mayor Clayton then presented the council with an overview of recent grant applications the city has made.

"Our USDA application for the Breath Alcohol testing equipment has been approved," said Clayton. "We have signed all of the necessary paperwork and such. We'll be getting a letter from the state office shortly and once we get that, we can submit it to the Harrison office and get the money to make the purchase. The sewer rehabilitation grant we are still waiting to hear on. Our application has been submitted and all the agencies that have to clear this have done so. Hopefully, we'll be hearing something about it pretty soon."

The city received several low bids on the old junk equipment that was advertised in the paper including an old firetruck and several work trucks. It was determined through discussion that the city could make more revenue by scrapping out the vehicles than by accepting the low bids. "The vehicles will weigh out with more worth scrapping out than what all the bids combined add up to," said Worsham.

The council voted unanimously to reject all bids and scrap out the vehicles.

Next, Mayor Clayton brought up the old cheese factory at the intersection of Highways 9 and 395.

"I have not sent out a letter yet," said Clayton. "I decided to bring it to council to let you make a decision on it, because there are implications to our actions here that we need to discuss before we jump in on it. We can send them a letter, informing them that they have 20 days to clean it up. If they fail to do so, we can then go in and clean it up and attach a lien to the property to recoup our costs. Here's the deal: we're looking at a clean up that's going to run $20,000 plus. The city doesn't have the equipment to do this. We'll have to contract the work out to somebody. Somewhere down the line we could get that money back, but we'll have a bunch of money tied up for possibly a long time. Secondly, there's litigation going on with that place and the owner says that part of the junk out there belongs to the individual who is suing him. Something has to be done with it, there's no doubt about that. I just don't want us jumping in without knowing all the angles, especially with the lawsuit going on."

City Attorney Dewayne Plumlee stated that he would look into the lawsuit and also re-examine the city's ordinance and report back with his findings.

Mayor Clayton then presented the council members with a copy of the completed 2009 city audit. "Everything on it is in good shape," said Clayton. "Take them home and review them and we'll open it up for discussion at the next meeting."

Due to scheduling conflicts among the council members, the October City Council meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 26.

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