Ag Society Discusses Estimate for Grandstands ADA Project

Ag Society Discusses Estimate for Grandstands ADA Project
Custer County Ag Society members pose during the October 13 meeting with the recent "Friend of Custer County" Award from the CEDC. (L-R) Shane Ryan, Steve Horn, Kent Nelson, Michelle Nelson, Charmayne Popp, Blair Hartman, Casey Cooksley, Ashley Garrelts, Rodney Lamb. Board member Marla Stallbaumer absent.

BROKEN BOW—An ADA compliant grandstands project at the Custer County Fairgrounds has been a focal point for the Custer County Ag Society (fair board) and event attendees for a longtime coming, especially following the January 29 Winter Ball in which the approximately $27,000 in proceeds were earmarked for the renovation.

However, the Ag Society was faced with some sticker shock during its monthly meeting on Thursday, October 13. Fairgrounds Administrator Michelle Nelson reported that the grandstands ADA accessibility project currently comes with an estimated $450,000 price tag.

A proposal from Kearney’s Miller & Associates for the engineering of the project was approved in May. Together with Architectural Design Associates out of Lincoln, the engineering firms submitted a preliminary design which included a wheelchair lift on the west side, a ramp on the east side, ADA seating areas, and new ADA restrooms on the south side of the grandstands.

Preliminary design from Architectural Design Associates out of Lincoln.

Fair board members were told the cost breaks down to approximately $85K for the new ramp and stairs, $35K for the chair lift, $120K for new ADA compliant restrooms, $140K for new bleacher arrangement to include ADA seating, and $70K for demolition of the old restrooms and site ramp adjustment.

Board member Casey Cooksley addressed the expansive rules and codes that are necessary to be considered “compliant” as well as the rising costs of building materials. He said his priority is accessibility but all pieces of the project have to fit together.

“Our top priority at this point is accessibility–getting somebody into the grandstands whether it’s a ramp or a wheelchair lift because we do have a lot of elderly folks and they don’t want to come here because we can’t get them into the grandstands. And then the other thing would be getting ADA compliant bathrooms. We need to drastically update our bathrooms out behind the grandstands,” Cooksley said.

Michelle Nelson said some grants may be available to help with funding but the agenda item was tabled and no decisions were made. The timeline for such a project of this cost and magnitude remains unknown.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place at this point. We want to progress going forward but at the same time we’re going to have to see what our estimates are. Things get can get really spendy in a hurry,” Cooksley told KCNI/KBBN.

The Ag Society voted to “fix up” the Grange building in cooperation with the Methodist Men’s group for use during the Custer County Fair. The vote included a five year commitment/agreement to make the building suitable for food stands to operate throughout the year with the Broken Bow United Methodist Church utilizing the building during the fair.

Rex Taylor appeared before the board saying the current food stand is in bad shape and that he and the men’s group would like to work with the fairgrounds for use of the Grange building. The money raised by the church goes to scholarships. Cost/Rent of the building is yet to be determined.

The Mid-States Rodeo took place in September and Michelle Nelson said thanks to sponsorships, the fairgrounds grossed more money from the event than last year. She is awaiting a decision from Mid-States as to whether future Mid-States will occur in Broken Bow as part of a bid and contract.

Extension Educator Troy Walz reported the 4-H Recognition event will be held on Sunday, November 20 at 2 p.m. at the 4-H Building.

Michelle Nelson said the Winter Ball will be held on Saturday, January 28, 2023. She also discussed the possibility of installing additional camper spots and hookups at the fairgrounds using leftover funds from the 2021 winter ball. Location of the new spots remains unknown and no decisions were made. The fairgrounds currently has a total of 73 camper spots which fill up at many events during the year according to Nelson.

Several buildings will soon be winterized and insurance money from the July storm has been deposited and cleanup work for Barn 1 continues.

Fair board members said they are still looking to hire a new Grounds Manager.

Recognition was given to all of the fairgrounds staff and board members for receiving the Custer Economic Development Corporation “Friend of Custer County Award” during the October 2 picnic and awards presentation.

The meeting adjourned at 8:18 p.m.