Relief money zeros in on fairgrounds

This image from a past livestock show is a reminder the 2022 version of the Garvin County Junior Livestock Show is coming in late February. An upgrade to the fairgrounds facilities is now being looked at as a project for federal pandemic relief money coming to Garvin County. (PV Democrat photo)

Although still early in the process it's pretty clear all three of Garvin County's commissioners are in full support of using some federal pandemic relief money to update a county facility in a big way.

The county fairgrounds facility in Pauls Valley looks to be at the top of any list of future projects to be funded by the millions of dollars of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money coming to Garvin County to help with the ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioners stressed during a meeting this week the fairgrounds are used for the fun stuff, like county fairs, livestock shows and club activities in the east building, but the facilities on the northwest side of PV represent so much more for the county.

With that in mind the trio is eyeing the fair barn buildings as a good place to start in their pursuit of projects to fund from the more than $5 million in ARPA money expected to eventually make its way to Garvin County.

“Whatever will support the most people,” District 1 Commissioner Randy Chandler said about the projects that will get the OK for this funding.

County Clerk Lori Fulks asked for approval to tap into some county use tax funds to pay for designs to be drawn up on possible upgrades to the buildings at the fairgrounds.

Some of the ideas being tossed about are a new roof, heat and air system, remodeled kitchen, maybe showers and short-term emergency shelter facilities in case of a disaster.

District 3 Commissioner Mike Gollihare, a volunteer firefighter himself, suggests the possibility of using some of the funding to have a new water truck, capable of holding 4,000 gallons, kept at the fairgrounds for emergency use in the general area.

Previous discussions have included the possibility of creating a climate-controlled storage area at the fairgrounds to keep personal protective equipment (PPE), which these days are used to deal with things like a virus pandemic.

“We'll probably have a lot of negative feedback on that because there's a lot of people that see it just as a fair barn. It's not,” District 2 Commissioner Gary Ayres said.

Examples are the fairgrounds have been used as a “point of distribution for various things” and even a place for drive-thru COVID-19 testing.

A couple of projects already getting the green light are a COVID testing machine to be owned by the county but used at Pauls Valley's hospital and an outdoor covering for drive-thru vaccinations at the Garvin County Health Department.

“We're to the point where we are getting to know what we want and what exactly can we use the funds for,” Fulks said.

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