Dispute threatens Hancock County fairgrounds proposal

HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. -An effort to build new fairgrounds in Hancock County may be in jeopardy after a dispute between the Hancock County Commissioners and the Hancock County 4-H Agricultural Association.

At the heart of the dispute, is control over the direction of the estimated $18 million plan.

Representatives from 4-H say they should have control over the project due to the fact that they oversee the day to day operations of the grounds.

However, because the current plan would require roughly $12 million of tax payer money, (which would be attained through an increase to a food and beverage tax over the course of 20 years) County Commissioners say oversight over how the money is spent, and ultimately the entire project, should be given to an elected officials who are accountable to tax payers.

“If you take taxpayer money then someone who's elected should be in charge of how it’s spent,” said Couch.

Assistant Vice President of 4-H Darrin Couch says he doesn’t see the situation as a dispute rather a small part of a long process.

"We have to make sure we meet the needs for the 4-H programs. I think there's a common ground somewhere we just have to keep working together,” said Couch.

Commissioner Armstrong also told FOX59 that another point of dispute lies with the fairground’s proposed location. Current plans call for the grounds to occupy a 120 acre plot along highway 40, but Armstrong says there are questions as to whether that location is suitable. In his words everything about the plan is currently “up in the air”.