April 19, 2013

May tax election could bring large shows, motocross to fairgrounds

James Bright, Managing Editor,
The Express-Star

GRADY COUNTY — The continuation of a 1/4 cent tax used to maintain the Grady County Fairgrounds will go to a vote May 14.

Several meetings intended to explain the importance of the tax have been set up over the next few weeks.

The meetings will be held, April 22 at 5:30 p.m. in Chickasha at the Grady County Fairgrounds, Building 2, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. in Tuttle at the Tuttle City Hall and May 9 at 6:30 p.m. in Minco at the Minco Sr. Citizens.

“Grady County Fairgrounds is an essential piece of our local economy- driving revenue, visitors and national events to our community,” said Pat Brooks, chairman of Friends of Grady County Fairgrounds in a release. “The continuation of the existing fairgrounds improvement tax is essential to ensuring that Grady County continues to have fairgrounds facilities that are competitive nationally.”

Should the continuation of the tax pass. an improved outdoor arena used to accommodate rodeos, horse shows, motocross and other outdoor events is part of the planned construction.

“Ultimately, the improvements that will be funded by the continuation of the sales tax will impact the quality of life of Grady County residents and allow our community to better attract visitors and large, nationally recognized events to the area,” said Brooks. “It’s important to note that all who do business in the county will share equally in the sales tax, which is simply a continuation of the existing 1/4 cent sales tax that is set to expire in 2014. We hope the communities will join us at these meetings to discuss further

the impact of the sales tax and address any questions residents may have.”

Marketing Director of The Grady County Fairgrounds Peggy MCMahan said information gathered via telephone surveys have shown a positive response to the continuation of the tax.

"A multi-purpose area will be marketed to many different groups," she said. "It would be an asset to have meetings, banquets and concerts in conduction with other events."

Should the tax continuation fail to pass, McMahan said she's not sure what the future of fairgrounds would be.

"Right now everything looks positive and that's our focus at this point," she said.

Respondents to a question on The Express-Star's Facebook about the tax echoed McMahan's sentiment, with most opting to vote yes on continuing the tax.

"If we want to live in a vibrant, growing city with an active economic base we must do all that we can to attract tourism, migration of skilled laborers and the educated," J.J. Francis wrote. "If we can do this and preserve our small town charm and that which makes this small city such a great place to raise a family not only will we triumph as a community but our children and grandchildren will inherit a place they will be happy to call home."

Erica Wenzel emphasized the importance of voter's knowledge regarding this tax as a continuation and not an increase.

"I feel like this would be a great asset to the city to bring in more tourists and draw in more events," Wenzel wrote. "This will not only benefit the people that use the outdoor arena but also it will make needed improvements to help benefit other groups that use the fairgrounds as well. People need to realize that this WILL NOT raise the taxes just continue what is already in place!"

Residents from outside of Chickasha also chimed in to support the tax.

"I live in Southern Grady County. I am all for the continuation of this tax," Charla Teel Gilleland said. "It is a win-win situation for the entire county!"

In addition to the new outdoor arena, other improvements to the fairgrounds should the tax pass include an indoor multipurpose arena.